Resources » Matthew Henry's Commentary » Job » Chapter 42 » Verses 10–17

Verses 10–17

You have heard of the patience of Job (says the apostle, Jas. 5:11) and have seen the end of the Lord, that is, what end the Lord, at length, put to his troubles. In the beginning of this book we had Job’s patience under his troubles, for an example; here, in the close, for our encouragement to follow that example, we have the happy issue of his troubles and the prosperous condition to which he was restored after them, which confirms us in counting those happy which endure. Perhaps, too, the extraordinary prosperity which Job was crowned with after his afflictions was intended to be to us Christians a type and figure of the glory and happiness of heaven, which the afflictions of this present time are working for us, and in which they will issue at last; this will be more than double to all the delights and satisfactions we now enjoy, as Job’s after-prosperity was to his former, though then he was the greatest of all the men of the east. He that rightly endures temptation, when he is tried, shall receive a crown of life (Jas. 1:12), as Job, when he was tried, received all the wealth, and honour, and comfort, which here we have an account of.

I. God returned in ways of mercy to him; and his thoughts concerning him were thoughts of good and not of evil, to give the expected (nay, the unexpected) end, Jer. 29:11. His troubles began in Satan’s malice, which God restrained; his restoration began in God’s mercy, which Satan could not oppose. Job’s sorest complaint, and indeed the sorrowful accent of all his complaints, on which he laid the greatest emphasis, was that God appeared against him. But now God plainly appeared for him, and watched over him to build and to plant, like as he had (at least in his apprehension) watched over him to pluck up and to throw down, Jer. 31:28. This put a new face upon his affairs immediately, and every thing now looked as pleasing and promising as before it had looked gloomy and frightful. 1. God turned his captivity, that is, he redressed his grievances and took away all the causes of his complaints; he loosed him from the bond with which Satan had now, for a great while, bound him, and delivered him out of those cruel hands into which he had delivered him. We may suppose that now all his bodily pains and distempers were healed so suddenly and so thoroughly that the cure was next to miraculous: His flesh became fresher than a child’s, and he returned to the days of his youth; and, what was more, he felt a very great alteration in his mind; it was calm and easy, and the tumult was all over, his disquieting thoughts had all vanished, his fears were silenced, and the consolations of God were now as much the delight of his soul as his terrors had been its burden. The tide thus turned, his troubles began to ebb as fast as they had flowed, just then when he was praying for his friends, praying over his sacrifice which he offered for them. Mercy did not return when he was disputing with his friends, no, not though he had right on his side, but when he was praying for them; for God is better served and pleased with our warm devotions than with our warm disputations. When Job completed his repentance by this instance of his forgiving men their trespasses, then God completed his remission by turning his captivity. Note, We are really doing our business when we are praying for our friends, if we pray in a right manner, for in those prayers there is not only faith, but love. Christ has taught us to pray with and for others in teaching us to say, Our Father; and, in seeking mercy for others, we may find mercy ourselves. Our Lord Jesus has his exaltation and dominion there, where he ever lives making intercession. Some, by the turning of Job’s captivity, understand the restitution which the Sabeans and Chaldeans made of the cattle which they had taken from him, God wonderfully inclining them to do it; and with these he began the world again. Probably it was so; those spoilers had swallowed down his riches, but they were forced to vomit them up again, Job 20:15. But I rather understand this more generally of the turn now given. 2. God doubled his possessions: Also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. It is probable that he did at first, in some way or other, intimate to him that it was his gracious purpose, by degrees, in due time to bring him to such a height of prosperity that he should have twice as much as ever he had, for the encouraging of his hope and the quickening of his industry, and that it might appear that this wonderful increase was a special token of God’s favour. And it may be considered as intended, (1.) To balance his losses. He suffered for the glory of God, and therefore God made it up to him with advantage, and allowed him more than interest upon interest. God will take care that none shall lose by him. (2.) To recompense his patience and his confidence in God, which (notwithstanding the workings of corruption) he did not cast away, but still held fast, and that is it which has a great recompence of reward, Heb. 10:35. Job’s friends had often put their severe censure of Job upon this issue, If thou wert pure and upright, surely now he would awake for thee, Job 8:6. But he does not awake for thee; therefore thou art not upright. “Well,” says God, “though your argument be not conclusive, I will even by that demonstrate the integrity of my servant Job; his latter end shall greatly increase, and by that it shall appear, since you will have it so, that it was not for any injustice in his hands that he suffered the loss of all things.” Now it appeared that Job had reason to bless God for taking away (as he did, Job 1:21), since it made so good a return.

II. His old acquaintance, neighbours, and relations, were very kind to him, Job 42:11. They had been estranged from him, and this was not the least of the grievances of his afflicted state; he bitterly complained of their unkindness, Job 19:13-22 But now they visited him with all possible expressions of affection and respect. 1. They put honour upon him, in coming to dine with him as formerly, but (we may suppose) privately bringing their entertainment along with them, so that he had the reputation of feasting them without the expense. 2. They sympathized with him, and showed a tender concern for him, such as becomes brethren. They bemoaned him when they talked over all the calamities of his afflicted state, and comforted him when they took notice of God’s gracious returns to him. They wept for his griefs, and rejoiced in his joys, and proved not such miserable comforters as his three friends, that, at first, were so forward and officious to attend him. These were not such great men nor such learned and eloquent men as those, but they proved much more skilful and kind in comforting Job. God sometimes chooses the foolish and weak things of the world, as for conviction, so for comfort. 3. They made a collection among them for the repair of his losses and the setting of him up again. They did not think it enough to say, Be warmed, Be filled, but gave him such things as would be of use to him, Jas. 2:16. Every one gave him a piece of money (some more, it is likely, and some less, according to their ability) and every one an ear-ring of gold (an ornament much used by the children of the east), which would be as good as money to him: this was a superfluity which they could well spare, and the rule is, That our abundance must be a supply to our brethren’s necessity. But why did Job’s relations now, at length, show this kindness to him? (1.) God put it in their hearts to do so; and every creature is that to us which he makes it to be. Job had acknowledged God in their estrangement from him, for which he now rewarded him in turning them to him again. (2.) Perhaps some of them withdrew from him because they thought him a hypocrite, but, now that his integrity was made manifest, they returned to him and to communion with him again. When God was friendly to him they were all willing to be friendly too, Ps. 119:74, 79. Others of them, it may be, withdrew because he was poor, and sore, and a rueful spectacle, but now that he began to recover they were willing to renew their acquaintance with him. Swallow-friends, that are gone in winter, will return in the spring, though their friendship is of little value. (3.) Perhaps the rebuke which God had given to Eliphaz and the other two for their unkindness to Job awakened the rest of his friends to return to their duty. Reproofs to others we should thus take as admonitions and instructions to us. 4. Job prayed for his friends, and then they flocked about him, overcome by his kindness, and every one desiring an interest in his prayers. The more we pray for our friends and relations the more comfort we may expect in them.

III. His estate strangely increased, by the blessing of God upon the little that his friends gave him. He thankfully received their courtesy, and did not think it below him to have his estate repaired by contributions. He did not, on the one hand, urge his friends to raise money for him; he acquits himself from that (Job 6:22), Did I say, Bring unto me or give me a reward of your substance? Yet what they brought he thankfully accepted, and did not upbraid them with their former unkindnesses, nor ask them why they did not do this sooner. He was neither so covetous and griping as to ask their charity, nor so proud and ill-natured as to refuse it when they offered it; and, being in so good a temper, God gave him that which was far better than their money and ear-rings, and that was his blessing, Job 42:12. The Lord comforted him now according to the days wherein he had afflicted him, and blessed his latter end more than his beginning. Observe, 1. The blessing of the Lord makes rich; it is he that gives us power to get wealth and gives success in honest endeavours. Those therefore that would thrive must have an eye to God’s blessing, and never to out of it, no, not into the warm sun; and those that have thriven must not sacrifice to their own net, but acknowledge their obligations to God for his blessing. 2. That blessing can make very rich and sometimes makes good people so. Those that become rich by getting think they can easily make themselves very rich by saving; but, as those that have little must depend upon God to make it much, so those that have much must depend upon God to make it more and to double it; else you have sown much and bring in little, Hag. 1:6. 3. The last days of a good man sometimes prove his best days, his last works his best works, his last comforts his best comforts; for his path, like that of the morning-light, shines more and more to the perfect day. Of a wicked man it is said, His last state is worse than his first (Luke 11:26), but of the upright man, His end is peace; and sometimes the nearer it is the clearer are the views of it. In respect of outward prosperity God is pleased sometimes to make the latter end of a good man’s life more comfortable than the former part of it has been, and strangely to outdo the expectations of his afflicted people, who thought they should never live to see better days, that we may not despair even in the depths of adversity. We know not what good times we may yet be reserved for in our latter end. Non, si male nunc, et olim sic erit—It may yet be well with us, though now it is otherwise. Job, in his affliction, had wished to be as in months past, as rich as he had been before, and quite despaired of that; but God is often better to us than our own fears, nay, than our own wishes, for Job’s possessions were doubled to him; the number of his cattle, his sheep and camels, his oxen and she-asses, is just double here to what it was, Job 1:3. This is a remarkable instance of the extent of the divine providence to things that seem minute, as this of the exact number of a man’s cattle, as also of the harmony of providence, and the reference of one event to another; for known unto God are all his works, from the beginning to the end. Job’s other possessions, no doubt, were increased in proportion to his cattle, lands, money, servants, etc. So that if, before, he was the greatest of all the men of the east, what was he now?

IV. His family was built up again, and he had great comfort in his children, Job 42:13-15. The last of his afflictions that are recorded (Job 1:13-19), and the most grievous, was the death of all his children at once. His friends upbraided him with it (Job 8:4), but God repaired even that breach in process of time, either by the same wife, or, she being dead, by another. 1. The number of his children was the same as before, seven sons and three daughters. Some give this reason why they were not doubled as his cattle were, because his children that were dead were not lost, but gone before to a better world; and therefore, if he have but the same number of them, they may be reckoned doubled, for he has two fleeces of children (as I may say) mahanaim—two hosts, one in heaven, the other on earth, and in both he is rich. 2. The names of his daughters are here registered (Job 42:14), because, in the significations of them, they seemed designed to perpetuate the remembrance of God’s great goodness to him in the surprising change of his condition. He called the first Jemima—The day (whence perhaps Diana had her name), because of the shining forth of his prosperity after a dark night of affliction. The next Kezia, a spice of a very fragrant smell, because (says bishop Patrick) God had healed his ulcers, the smell of which was offensive. The third Keren-happuch (that is Plenty restored, or A horn of paint), because (says he) God had wiped away the tears which fouled his face, Job 16:16. Concerning these daughters we are here told, (1.) That God adorned them with great beauty, no women so fair as the daughters of Job, Job 42:15. In the Old Testament we often find women praised for their beauty, as Sarah, Rebekah, and many others; but we never find any women in the New Testament whose beauty is in the least taken notice of, no, not the virgin Mary herself, because the beauty of holiness is that which is brought to a much clearer light by the gospel. (2.) That their father (God enabling him to do it) supplied them with great fortunes: He gave them inheritance among their brethren, and did not turn them off with small portions, as most did. It is probable that they had some extraordinary personal merit, which Job had an eye to in the extraordinary favour he showed them. Perhaps they excelled their brethren in wisdom and piety; and therefore, that they might continue in his family, to be a stay and blessing to it, he made them co-heirs with their brethren.

V. His life was long. What age he was when his troubles came we are nowhere told, but here we are told he lived 140 years, whence some conjecture that he was 70 when he was in his troubles, and that so his age was doubled, as his other possessions. 1. He lived to have much of the comfort of this life, for he saw his posterity to the fourth generation, Job 42:16. Though his children were not doubled to him, yet in his children’s children (and those are the crown of old men) they were more than doubled. As God appointed to Adam another seed instead of that which was slain (Gen. 4:25), so he did to Job with advantage. God has ways to repair the losses and balance the griefs of those who are written childless, as Job was when he had buried all his children. 2. He lived till he was satisfied, for he died full of days, satisfied with living in this world, and willing to leave it; not peevishly so, as in the days of his affliction, but piously so, and thus, as Eliphaz had encouraged him to hope, he came to his grave like a shock of corn in his season.