Chapter 31

Job had often protested his integrity in general; here he does it in particular instances, not in a way of commendation (for he does not here proclaim his good deeds), but in his own just and necessary vindication, to clear himself from those crimes with which his friends had falsely charged him, which is a debt every man owes to his own reputation. Job’s friends had been particular in their articles of impeachment against him, and therefore he is so in his protestation, which seems to refer especially to what Eliphaz had accused him of, Job 22:6-9 They had produced no witnesses against him, neither could they prove the things whereof they now accused him, and therefore he may well be admitted to purge himself upon oath, which he does very solemnly, and with many awful imprecations of God’s wrath if he were guilty of those crimes. This protestation confirms God’s character of him, that there was none like him in the earth. Perhaps some of his accusers durst not have joined with him; for he not only acquits himself from those gross sins which lie open to the eye of the world, but from many secret sins which, if he had been guilty of them, nobody could have charged him, with, because he will prove himself no hypocrite. Nor does he only maintain the cleanness of his practices, but shows also that in them he went upon good principles, that the reason of his eschewing evil was because he feared God, and his piety was at the bottom of his justice and charity; and this crowns the proof of his sincerity. I. The sins from which he here acquits himself are, 1. Wantonness and uncleanness of heart, Job 31:1-4. 2. Fraud and injustice in commerce, Job 31:4-8. 3. Adultery, Job 31:9-12. 4. Haughtiness and severity towards his servants, Job 31:13-15. 5. Unmercifulness to the poor, the widows, and the fatherless, Job 31:16-23. 6. Confidence in his worldly wealth, Job 31:24, 25. 7. Idolatry, Job 31:26-28. 8. Revenge, Job 31:29-31. 9. Neglect of poor strangers, Job 31:32. 10. Hypocrisy in concealing his own sins and cowardice in conniving at the sins of others, Job 31:33, 34. 11. Oppression, and the violent invasion of other people’s rights, Job 31:38-40. And towards the close, he appeals to God’s judgment concerning his integrity, Job 31:35-37. Now, II. In all this we may see, 1. The sense of the patriarchal age concerning good and evil and what was so long ago condemned as sinful, that is, both hateful and hurtful. 2. A noble pattern of piety and virtue proposed to us for our imitation, which, if our consciences can witness for us that we conform to it, will be our rejoicing, as it was Job’s in the day of evil.