XII Job blames his friends for their self-conceit and unkind behaviour, ver. 1-5. Shews that the wicked often prosper, ver. 6- 11. Confirms and enlarges upon what had been said, of the wisdom, power and providence of God, ver. 12-25.
Verse 2. Ye - You have engrossed all the reason of mankind; and each of you has as much wisdom as an whole people put together. All the wisdom which is in the world, lives in you, and will be utterly lost when you die. When wise and good men die, it is a comfort to think that wisdom and goodness do not die with them: it is folly to think, that there will be a great, irreparable loss of us when we are gone, since God has the residue of the spirit, and can raise up others more fit to do his work.
Verse 3. But - In these things, which he speaks not in a way of boasting, but for the just vindication both of himself, and of that cause of God, which for the substance of it he maintained rightly, as God himself attests, chap. xlii, 7. Such things - The truth is, neither you nor I have any reason to be puffed up with our knowledge of these things: for the most barbarous nations know that God is infinite in wisdom, and power, and justice. But this is not the question between you and me.
Verse 4. Upon God - Even by my religious neighbours, by those who call upon God, and not in vain; whose prayers therefore I covet, not their reproaches. The just - I, who, notwithstanding all their hard censures dare still own it, that through God's grace I am an upright man.
Verse 5. Slip with his feet - And fall into trouble; tho' he had formerly shone as a lamp, he is then looked upon as a lamp going out, as the snuff of a candle, which we throw to the ground and tread upon; and accordingly is despised in the thought of him that is at ease.
Verse 6. Are secure - Job's friends had all supposed, that wicked men cannot prosper long in the world. This Job opposes, and maintains, that God herein acts as sovereign, and reserves that exact distribution of rewards and punishments for the other world.
Verse 7. But - If thou observest the beasts, and their properties and actions, and events, from them thou mayst learn this lesson: that which Zophar had uttered with so much pomp and gravity, chap. xi, 7, 8, 9, concerning God's infinite wisdom, saith Job, thou needest not go into heaven or hell to know. but thou mayst learn it even from the beasts.
Verse 9. Lord - This is the only time that we meet with the name Jehovah in all the discourses between Job and his friends. For God in that age was more known by the name of Shaddai, the Almighty.
Verse 11. Doth not - This may be a preface to his following discourse; whereby he invites them to hear and judge of his words candidly and impartially; that they and he too might agree in disallowing what should appear to be false, and owning of every truth.
Verse 12. Wisdom - These words contain a concession of what Bildad had said, chap. viii, 8, 9, and a joining with him in that appeal; but withal, an intimation that this wisdom was but imperfect, and liable to many mistakes; and indeed mere ignorance and folly, if compared with the Divine wisdom, and therefore that antiquity ought not to be received against the truths of the most wise God.
Verse 14. No opening - Without God's permission. Yea, he shuts up in the grave, and none can break open those sealed doors. He shuts up in hell, in chains of darkness, and none can pass that great gulf.
Verse 15. The waters - Which are reserved its the clouds, that they may not fall upon the earth. They - The waters upon the earth, springs, and brooks, and rivers. As at the time of the general deluge, to which here is a manifest allusion.
Verse 16. With him - The same thing he had said before, ver. 13, but he repeats it here to prepare the way for the following events, which are eminent instances, both of his power and wisdom. Are his - Wholly subject to his disposal. He governs the deceiver and sets bounds to his deceits, how far they shall extend; he also over-rules all this to his own glory, and the accomplishment of his righteous designs of trying the good, and punishing wicked men, by giving them up to believe lies. Yet God is not the author of any error or sin, but only the wise and holy governor of it.
Verse 17. Spoiled - The wise counsellors or statesmen, by whom the affairs of kings and kingdoms are ordered, he leadeth away as captives in triumph, being spoiled either of that wisdom which they had, or seemed to have; or of that power and dignity which they had enjoyed. Fools - By discovering their folly, and by infatuating their minds, and turning their own counsels to their ruin.
Verse 18. Looseth - He freeth them from that wherewith they bind their subjects to obedience, their power and authority, and that majesty which Godstamps upon kings, to keep their people in awe. Girdeth - He reduces them to a mean and servile condition; which is thus expressed, because servants did use to gird up their garments (that after the manner of those parts were loose and long) that they might be fitter for attendance upon their masters: he not only deposes them from their thrones, but brings them into slavery.
Verse 20. The speech - By taking away or restraining the gift of utterance from them. Or, by taking away their understanding which should direct their speech. Trusty - Of those wise and experienced counsellors, that were trusted by the greatest princes.
Verse 22. Darkness - The most secret counsels of princes, which are contrived and carried on in the dark.
Verse 23. Nations - What hitherto he said of princes, he now applies to nations, whom God does either increase or diminish as he pleases.
Verse 25. Grope - Thus are the revolutions of kingdoms brought about by an overruling providence. Heaven and earth are shaken: but the Lord remaineth a king forever.