CHAPTER 34.

WE heard how Elihu began to take the dispute off the hands of Job's friends, and set himself to convince Job. It is like there hath been some intermission betwixt this and the former discourse, Job has keeped silence as being more convinced, or he has been meekened by Elihu, his mild matter and manner of procedure, and is desirous to hear more.

In this chapter we have, 1st. A preface to ver.5. 2dly, The matter he has to refute in Job, from ver: 5,6. 3dly, His confutation, from verse 6. to verse 34. 4thly, The close of his discourse in the last four verses.

First, Elihu answered and said; and the preface follows, and it is to stir up Job and his friends to attendion, and grave and understanding men with them, to consider and judge of what he has to say. Hear me ye wise men, I deal with wise men, and men of understanding, and I shall deal prudently with you, therfore give ear to me, he backs this with two reasons, verse 3. 1. I shall offer the matter I bring forth to be judged and tried, for it is with the ear in trying words, as with the mouth and pallat, in discerning meat. A second reason is, verse 4. Let us chuse to us judgement; we shall not be rash in passing sentence, but see who has the most solid reasons for them, and accordingly judge; and let us know among ourselves what is good; let us know by mutual reasoning together who has the best side.

Secondly, In the fifth and sixth verses, he draws the matter which he has to refute to two heads. 1. Job hath said, I am righteous. He has spoken too much for justifying himself, as chapters xiii, xviii, xix. chapter xxvii. 6. where Elihu thinks he hath spoken well and largely in vindicating himself, and pleading his own innocency. 2dly, He charges him for reflecting on God, as if Job had, said, God had taken away his judgement, that is, (as Elihu expones), God had dealt more rigorously with him than there was reason or just cause. Job had indeed spoken these words, chapter xxvii 2. but his meaning is, that God had not as yet vindicated him, but left him as a condemned man under his friends censure. The charge is amplified, verse 6. Job has said, should I lye against my right, Job has said, he cannot say he is guilty, except he sin, and that his wound is incureable without transgression, which Job said not in words, yet chapter xxvii. when we compare the second and fourth verses, we will find his words to come near thir words, though his meaning be different from that, which Elihu would put upon them.

Thirdly, He goes on to confute Job in three or four steps. The first step or way of his confutation is from verse 7. to verse 10. holding forth the absurdity of Job's assertion, and wondering how such a man could speak so, in three steps, the first is verse 7. What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water? Was there any wise, gracious, conscientious man, ever spake that as he hath spoken, (for in the next verse he speaks of wicked men, and makes Job a pleader for them), striving to make Job's assertion detestable, and proposing it as a thing to be abhorred. 2dly, Comparing Job to wicked men in this, verse 8. Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity; in maintaining a tenet which they do maintain, he pleads for them, Mal. iii. 14. They say, there is no profit by serving God, and Job says the same in substance, and so walks in one way with them. 3dly, He shews the absurdity of Job's expression, by drawing consequences from it, verse 9. he hath said, it profits a man nothing that he should delight himself in God; for it is all one, (would he say), as if he had said it, for if God takes no notice of mens righteousness, it will do a man no good though he be righteous. Having teisseled85 up the absurdity of Job's opinion, he confutes it more particularly in a second way speaking to Job's friends from verse 10. to verse 16. by three arguments. 1. Ver. 10. Hearken to me, ye men of understanding, and see if ye will bind this on God, that he should do wickedly. So 1. he confutes Job’s assertion, (as he took it up), from the nature of God, who is of pure eyes, and cannot behold iniquity. It were abominable to think otherwise of God, and so he rejects the consequence with abhorrence. A second argument is from God's work and way of proceeding, verse 11. The work of man shall he render unto him, he proceeds with men according to the rule of righteousness, and therefore will not do unjustly himself. A third argument is verse 12. and it is taken from God's will, Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, though in his sovereignty he might do what might seem iniquity, being above all law, yet he will not do it. It is inconsistent with his holy nature; he that is supream, his will is our rule, but he will not do iniquity. This he confirms by two assertions which might be new arguments. 1. If God would do wrong who, could controlled him? verse 13. Who hath given him a charge over the earth? Insinuating God's absoluteness and sovereignty, and this is followed forth in one expression or two, verse 14, 15. If God pleased to draw in man's breath, or his power whereby he maintains man, or keeps in man's breath, all flesh should perish together, all should turn to nothing; it is as easy for him to destroy all mankind, as it for man to draw in his breath.

The third, part of the confutation, is spoken to Job himself, and it has a preface, verse 16. If thou hast understanding, hear this, and I will show thee thine error, and he goes on to confute him two ways, 1. By shewing the evil of Job's way to verse 31. 2dly, By shewing the way Job should have followed, from verse 31. to verse 34.

In laying out the evil of Job's way he goes upon two grounds, 1st, God's sovereignty. 2dly, his justice, ver, 17. His sovereignty, Shall he that even hates right govern? Think ye, Job, he who governs as supream can hate right? or than he that all must appeal to for decision of all causes, hate right? Shall he do wrong, to whom all must appeal to for righting of wrongs? It is impossible. 2dly, His justice, Wilt thou condemn him that is most just? Think ye, it is a light matter to condemn him who is holy and just He shews the absurdity of these two, by holding forth God's absoluteness mixed with justice. And, 2dly, his absoluteness, verse 18. Is it fit to say to a king, thou art wicked? Job, look if any great man will take it well off your hand to speak to him as ye have spoken to God; and if it be not a light matter to speak so to man, to charge a king or prince with wickedness, he would not bear it well; Is it fit to, be so spoken to God, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords? and yet this sovereignty is mixed with justice, How much less to him that accepts not the person of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? That puts no difference betwixt the rich and the poor, and the reason of it, for they are all the work of his hands, he made them both, verse 20. In a moment shall they die, &c. All these princes that ye durst not speak to, he could in a night take them all away with a blast in his anger, is he should speak the word, they should return to dust, he could send sickness, or any rod he pleases, and remove them without hands; and think ye it a light matter to charge such a sovereign God with injustice. 2dly, He vindicates God's justice, verse 21. For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he sees all his goings, that is, think not he does all this that 1 have been saying out of his sole arbitriment, for he knows all the ways and works of men, they are naked and bare before him, a wicked man cannot hide an evil turn from God, verse 22. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, wherein wicked folks can hide themselves from his eye, and verse 23. He will lay on no man more than his right, for as sore plagues as he has laid on men, he never laid on any more than was right, that they should have occasion to enter in judgement with him, (and so it is with you), or have any ground of complaint. 

A second step or argument whereon he goes in laying out the evil of Job's way by several instances of God's sovereignty, And the first is, verse 24. God does not only what he pleases with one or two men only, but with numbers of men, and mighty men, whom he puts down or lets up as he pleases; and this is not unjust as he insinuates in the words following, verse 25. for he knows their works, he knows when there is just cause to be about with them, though men see it not, and he overturns them at an instant. Ver. 26. He strikes them as wicked men in the open sight of others, he takes a way to execute his justice more terribly before all the world, that all may behold and see in his dealing with them, a pattern of his justice; and be gives two reasons, why God vents his justice thus against great men. The first verse 27. because they fell from their obedience to God, and departed from their duty to him. And a second reason is, verse 28. relating to their breach of the second table, because they were oppressors of these under them, which made the cry of the poor, whom they opprest come up to him, whose cry he hears. A third instance of God's sovereignty is, verse 29. When he gives quietness, who can trouble? God is so absolute and sovereign in his way, that he does what he will, if he have a mind to execute judgement on a person or nation, none can keep it off, and if he give quietness none can make trouble; and he takes sometimes this way, for this reason, That the hypocrite reign not, verse 30. that is, when he has a mind to take away a wicked governor that pretended to be for God's people, and intended to spoil and insnare them, (for the word hypocrite may be rendered, wicked governor), he sends trouble and prevents that snare.

From verse 31. to verse 34. he sets down the way that Job should have followed, or what would have been more suitable to be his carriage, Surely this were meet to be said unto God, I have born chastisement, I have gotten scourges for thy guilt, and I will submit and mend wherein I have been faulty. 2. This were meet to be said, verse 32. That which I see not, teach thou me; it were better if ye have seen any sin, to take with it, and pray for God's meaning of his rods, and to beware of doing any more that which may offend him. He concludes with a pithy expostulation, verse 33. Should it be according to thy mind? Whether should God have his will, or ye yours? Think ye it not an absurd thing to prescribe to God to guide the world; and he presses the advice he has given Job by this argument, the way that ye are on will do no good; He will recompence it, whether. thou chuse or refuse and not I, whether thou take with thy sin, and humble thyself before God or not, he will take his own way to humble thee, and it is him thou hast to do with, and not I; therefore seeing I expect thou art convinced, take with thy fault, or if thou wilt speak on, speak what thou knowest, and speak not of things too high for thee.

The close of the chapter is in the last four verses, and as he began so he closes, calling wise men to judge whether Job has played the fool, and spoken rashly according to his narrow sense and uptaking of God, verse 34, 35. and backs his arguments with this, If all that I have said convince not Job, I wish we may debate the matter over again which he hath spoken, and may see what advantage he hath given to wicked men, by his hot and passionate speeches and reflections on God, verse 36. and he gives two or three reasons of this, verse 37. for he adds rebellion to his sin, he spoke rash words before, but now he is like to justify himself. 2dly, He claps his hands amongst us, be insults over us, as if we had no answer to give him. 3dly, He multiplies his words against God, by taking occasion to cry down God's justice. Or this last verse may be read, Why should he add rebellion to his sin, and clap his hands amongst us, and multiply his words against God? That is, if we confute him not, we give him occasion to add rebellion to his sin, to insult over us, and to multiply words against God.

 O B S E R V A T 1 O N S.

I. From the general scope, Observe: That it is right hard for good folks, when they give way to fretting, to give God's justice and sovereignty the right due. Job, who had no marrow for piety overshoots himself, and something escapes him, that he is justly to be found fault with; when folks falls upon a way of judging hard of God's way, it rubs on God himself.

II. Consider the grounds that Elihu lays down, it may be asked, How is this that Elihu does so aggrege Job's faults? Or how can he do it? We think that he questions not Job's integrity, and that he was tender of him otherwise, but he speaks thus sharply to him, 1. Because some of Job's expressions, such as were named before, reflected on God, and he makes that a great fault. 2. Because he thinks that Job thought too little of such reflections. 3. It may be thought, that Elihu stretches his consequences too far and beyond Job's meaning. Observe: That there is no right walking under a cross and adverse dispensation without right thoughts of the majesty of God; folks had need under difficulties to call to mind the God they have to do with. It is on this ground that Elihu proceeds, and it would calm and sober folks spirits best of any thing; and, O! but we had need to work our hearts to it.

III. From the words, verse 31. Surely it is meet to be said unto God, take your lesson, It is meet under every cross dispensation and afflicted condition, to stoop and submit to God; to search out sin, to take with what we know is wrong, and wherein we are ignorant to seek God's teaching, and watch and guard against the evils for the time to come that provoked God.

IV. From the words, verse 33. Should it be according to thy mind? Observe: Folks would ay have God guiding the world according to their mind and will. 2dly, There is not a more unreasonable thing to seek to take the guiding of the world out of God's hand, and yet this is the ground of our fretting and complaining, and not submitting to God, because we get not our will: Therefore when the heart rises, say to yourselves, Should dispensations come as ye would, or as God would?

This one word may stop our mouth, whether should God or we have the guiding of matters?