Verses 1–6

Job here recommends himself, both his case and his discourse, both what he suffered and what he said, to the compassionate consideration of his friends. 1. That which he entreats of them is very fair, that they would suffer him to speak (Job 21:3) and not break in upon him, as Zophar had done, in the midst of his discourse. Losers, of all men, may have leave to speak; and, if those that are accused and censured are not allowed to speak for themselves, they are wronged without remedy, and have no way to come at their right. He entreats that they would hear diligently his speech (Job 21:2) as those that were willing to understand him, and, if they were under a mistake, to have it rectified; and that they would mark him (Job 21:5), for we may as well not hear as not heed and observe what we hear. 2. That which he urges for this is very reasonable. (1.) They came to comfort him. “No,” says he, “let this be your consolations (Job 21:2); if you have no other comforts to administer to me, yet deny me not this; be so kind, so just, as to give me a patient hearing, and that shall pass for your consolations of me.” Nay, they could not know how to comfort him if they would not give him leave to open his case and tell his own story. Or, “It will be a consolation to yourselves, in reflection, to have dealt tenderly with your afflicted friend, and not harshly.” (2.) He would hear them speak when it came to their turn. “After I have spoken you may go on with what you have to say, and I will not hinder you, no, though you go on to mock me.” Those that engage in controversy must reckon upon having hard words given them, and resolve to bear reproach patiently; for, generally, those that mock will mock on, whatever is said to them. (3.) He hoped to convince them. “If you will but give me a fair hearing, mock on if you can, but I believe I shall say that which will change your note and make you pity me rather than mock me.” (4.) They were not his judges (Job 21:4): “Isa. my complaint to man? No, if it were I see it would be to little purpose to complain. But my complaint is to God, and to him do I appeal. Let him be Judge between you and me. Before him we stand upon even terms, and therefore I have the privilege of being heard as well as you. If my complaint were to men, my spirit would be troubled, for they would not regard me, nor rightly understand me; but my complaint is to God, who will suffer me to speak, though you will not.” It would be sad if God should deal as unkindly with us as our friends sometimes do. (5.) There was that in his case which was very surprising and astonishing, and therefore both needed and deserved their most serious consideration. It was not a common case, but a very extraordinary one. [1.] He himself was amazed at it, at the troubles God had laid upon him and the censures of his friends concerning him (Job 21:6): “When I remember that terrible day in which I was on a sudden stripped of all my comforts, that day in which I was stricken with sore boils,—when I remember all the hard speeches with which you have grieved me,—I confess I am afraid, and trembling takes hold of my flesh, especially when I compare this with the prosperous condition of many wicked people, and the applauses of their neighbours, with which they pass through the world.” Note, The providences of God, in the government of the world, are sometimes very astonishing even to wise and good men, and bring them to their wits’ end. [2.] He would have them wonder at it (Job 21:5): “Mark me, and be astonished. Instead of expounding my troubles, you should awfully adore the unsearchable mysteries of Providence in afflicting one thus of whom you know no evil; you should therefore lay your hand upon your mouth, silently wait the issue, and judge nothing before the time. God’s way is in the sea, and his path in the great waters. When we cannot account for what he does, in suffering the wicked to prosper and the godly to be afflicted, nor fathom the depth of those proceedings, it becomes us to sit down and admire them. Upright men shall be astonished at this, Job 17:8. Be you so.”