Resources » Matthew Henry's Commentary » Job » Chapter 22 » Verses 15–20

Verses 15–20

Eliphaz, having endeavoured to convict Job, by setting his sins (as he thought) in order before him, here endeavours to awaken him to a sight and sense of his misery and danger by reason of sin; and this he does by comparing his case with that of the sinners of the old world; as if he had said, “Thy condition is bad now, but, unless thou repent, it will be worse, as theirs was—theirs who were overflown with a flood, as the old world (Job 22:16), and theirs the remnant of whom the fire consumed” (Job 22:20), namely, the Sodomites, who, in comparison of the old world, were but a remnant. And these two instances of the wrath of God against sin and sinners are more than once put together, for warning to a careless world, as by our Saviour (Luke 17:26-30) and the apostle, 2 Pet. 2:5, 6. Eliphaz would have Job to mark the old way which wicked men have trodden (Job 22:15) and see what came of it, what the end of their way was. Note, There is an old way which wicked men have trodden. Religion had but newly entered when sin immediately followed it. But though it is an old way, a broad way, a tracked way, it is a dangerous way and it leads to destruction; and it is good for us to mark it, that we may not dare to walk in it. Eliphaz here puts Job in mind of it, perhaps in opposition to what he had said of the prosperity of the wicked; as if he had said, “Thou canst find out here and there a single instance, it may be, of a wicked man ending his days in peace; but what is that to those two great instances of the final perdition of ungodly men—the drowning of the whole world and the burning of Sodom?” destructions by wholesale, in which he thinks Job may, as in a glass, see his own face. Observe, 1. The ruin of those sinners (Job 22:16): They were cut down out of time; that is, they were cut off in the midst of their days, when, as man’s time then went, many of them might, in the course of nature, have lived some hundreds of years longer, which made their immature extirpation the more grievous. They were cut down out of time, to be hurried into eternity. And their foundation, the earth on which they built themselves and all their hopes, was overflown with a flood, the flood which was brought in upon the world of the ungodly, 2 Pet. 2:5. Note, Those who build upon the sand choose a foundation which will be overflown when the rains descend and the floods come (Matt. 7:27), and then their building must needs fall and they perish in the ruins of it, and repent of their folly when it is too late. 2. The sin of those sinners, which brought that ruin (Job 22:17): They said unto God, Depart from us. Job had spoken of some who said so and yet prospered, Job 21:14. “But these did not (says Eliphaz); they found to their cost what it was to set God at defiance. Those who were resolved to lay the reins on the neck of their appetites and passions began with this; they said unto God, Depart; they abandoned all religion, hated the thoughts of it, and desired to live without God in the world; they shunned his word, and silenced conscience, his deputy. And what can the Almighty do for them?” Some make this to denote the justness of their punishment. They said to God, Depart from us; and then what could the Almighty do with them but cut them off? Those who will not submit to God’s golden sceptre must expect to be broken to pieces with his iron rod. Others make it to denote the injustice of their sin: But what hath the Almighty done against them? What iniquity have they found in him, or wherein has he wearied them? Mic. 6:3; Jer. 2:5. Others make it to denote the reason of their sin: They say unto God, Depart, asking what the Almighty can do to them. “What has he done to oblige us? What can he do in a way of wrath to make us miserable, or in a way of favour to make us happy?” As they argue, Zeph. 1:12. The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil. Eliphaz shows the absurdity of this in one word, and that is, calling God the Almighty; for, if he be so, what cannot he do? But it is not strange if those cast off all religion who neither dread God’s wrath nor desire his favour. 3. The aggravation of this sin: Yet he had filled their houses with good things, Job 22:18. Both those of the old world and those of Sodom had great plenty of all the delights of sense; for they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, etc. (Luke 17:27), so that they had no reason to ask what the Almighty could do for them, for they lived upon his bounty, no reason to bid him depart from them who had been so kind to them. Many have their houses full of goods but their hearts empty of grace, and thereby are marked for ruin. 4. The protestation which Eliphaz makes against the principles and practices of those wicked people: But the counsel of the wicked is far from me. Job had said so (Job 21:16) and Eliphaz will not be behind him. If they cannot agree in their own principles concerning God, yet they agree in renouncing the principles of those that live without God in the world. Note, Those that differ from each other in some matters of religion, and are engaged in disputes about them, yet ought unanimously and vigorously to appear against atheism and irreligion, and to take care that their disputes do not hinder either their vigour or unanimity in that common cause of God, that righteous cause. 5. The pleasure and satisfaction which the righteous shall have in this. (1.) In seeing the wicked destroyed, Job 22:19. They shall see it, that is, observe it, and take notice of it (Hos. 14:9); and they shall be glad, not to see their fellow-creatures miserable, or any secular turn of their own served, or point gained, but to see God glorified, the word of God fulfilled, the power of oppressors broken, and thereby the oppressed relieved—to see sin shamed, atheists and infidels confounded, and fair warning given to all others to shun such wicked cour 5eef ses. Nay, they shall laugh them to scorn, that is, they justly might do it, they shall do it, as God does it, in a holy manner, Ps. 2:4; Prov. 1:26. They shall take occasion thence to expose the folly of sinners and show how ridiculous their principles are, though they call themselves wits. Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; and see what comes of it, Ps. 52:7. Some understand this of righteous Noah and his family, who beheld the destruction of the old world and rejoiced in it, as he had grieved for their impiety. Lot, who saw the ruin of Sodom, had the same reason to rejoice, 2 Pet. 2:7, 8. (2.) In seeing themselves distinguished (Job 22:20): “Whereas our substance is not cut down, as theirs was, and as thine is; we continue to prosper, which is a sign that we are the favourites of Heaven, and in the right.” The same rule that served him to condemn Job by served him to magnify himself and his companions by. His substance is cut down; therefore he is a wicked man; ours is not; therefore we are righteous. But it is a deceitful rule to judge by; for none knows love or hatred by all that is before him. If others be consumed, and we be not, instead of censuring them and lifting up ourselves, as Eliphaz does here, we ought to be thankful to God and take it for a warning to ourselves to prepare for similar calamities.