Zophar here speaks very good things concerning God and his greatness and glory, concerning man and his vanity and folly: these two compared together, and duly considered, will have a powerful influence upon our submission to all the dispensations of the divine Providence.
I. See here what God is, and let him be adored.
1. He is an incomprehensible Being, infinite and immense, whose nature and perfections our finite understandings cannot possibly form any adequate conceptions of, and whose counsels and actings we cannot therefore, without the greatest presumption, pass a judgment upon. We that are so little acquainted with the divine nature are incompetent judges of the divine providence; and, when we censure the dispensations of it, we talk of things that we do not understand. We cannot find out God; how dare we then find fault with him? Zophar here shows, (1.) That God’s nature infinitely exceeds the capacities of our understandings: “Canst thou find out God, find him out to perfection? No, What canst thou do? What canst thou know?” Job 11:7, 8. Thou, a poor, weak, short-sighted creature, a worm of the earth, that art but of yesterday? Thou, though ever so inquisitive after him, ever so desirous and industrious to find him out, yet darest thou attempt the search, or canst thou hope to speed in it? We may, by searching find God (Acts 17:27), but we cannot find him out in any thing he is pleased to conceal; we may apprehend him, but we cannot comprehend him; we may know that he is, but cannot know what he is. The eye can see the ocean but not see over it. We may, by a humble, diligent, and believing search, find out something of God, but cannot find him out to perfection; we may know, but cannot know fully, what God is, nor find out his work from the beginning to the end, Eccl. 3:11. Note, God is unsearchable. The ages of his eternity cannot be numbered, nor the spaces of his immensity measured; the depths of his wisdom cannot be fathomed, nor the reaches of his power bounded; the brightness of his glory can never be described, nor the treasures of his goodness reckoned up. This is a good reason why we should always speak of God with humility and caution and never prescribe to him nor quarrel with him, why we should be thankful for what he has revealed of himself and long to be where we shall see him as he is, 1 Cor. 13:9, 10. (2.) That it infinitely exceeds the limits of the whole creation: It is higher than heaven (so some read it), deeper than hell, the great abyss, longer than the earth, and broader than the sea, many parts of which are to this day undiscovered, and more were then. It is quite out of our reach to comprehend God’s nature. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us, Ps. 139:6. We cannot fathom God’s designs, nor find out the reasons of his proceedings. His judgments are a great deep. Paul attributes such immeasurable dimensions to the divine love as Zophar here attributes to the divine wisdom, and yet recommends it to our acquaintance. Eph. 3:18, 19, That you may know the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, of the love of Christ.
2. God is a sovereign Lord (Job 11:10): If he cut off by death (margin, If he make a change, for death is a change; if he make a change in nations, in families, in the posture of our affairs),—if he shut up in prison, or in the net of affliction (Ps. 66:11),—if he seize any creature as a hunter his prey, he will gather it (so bishop Patrick) and who shall force him to restore? or if he gather together, as tares for the fire, or if he gather to himself man’s spirit and breath (Job 34:14), then who can hinder him? Who can either arrest the sentence or oppose the execution? Who can control his power or arraign his wisdom and justice? If he that made all out of nothing think fit to reduce all to nothing, or to their first chaos again,—if he that separated between light and darkness, dry land and sea, at first, please to gather them together again,—if he that made unmakes, who can turn him away, alter his mind or stay his hand, impede or impeach his proceedings?
3. God is a strict and just observer of the children of men (Job 11:11): He knows vain men. We know little of him, but he knows us perfectly: He sees wickedness also, not to approve it (Hab. 1:13), but to animadvert upon it. (1.) He observes vain men. Such all are (every man, at his best estate, is altogether vanity), and he considers it in his dealings with them. He knows what the projects and hopes of vain men are, and can blast and defeat them, the workings of their foolish fancies; he sits in heaven, and laughs at them. He takes knowledge of the vanity of men (that is, their little sins; so some) their vain thoughts and vain words, and unsteadiness in that which is good. (2.) He observes bad men: He sees gross wickedness also, though committed ever so secretly and ever so artfully palliated and disguised. All the wickedness of the wicked is naked and open before the all-seeing eye of God: Will he not then consider it? Yes, certainly he will, and will reckon for it, though for a time he seem to keep silence.
II. See here what man is, and let him be humbled, Job 11:12. God sees this concerning vain man that he would be wise, would be thought so, though he is born like a wild ass’s colt, so sottish and foolish, unteachable and untameable. See what man is. 1. He is a vain creature—empty; so the word is. God made him full, but he emptied himself, impoverished himself, and now he is raca, a creature that has nothing in him. 2. He is a foolish creature, has become like the beasts that perish (Ps. 49:20; 73:22), an idiot, born like an ass, the most stupid animal, an ass’s colt, not yet brought to any service. If ever he come to be good for any thing, it is owing to the grace of Christ, who once, in the day of his triumph, served himself by an ass’s colt. 3. He is a wilful ungovernable creature. An ass’s colt may be made good for something, but the wild ass’s colt will never be reclaimed, nor regards the crying of the driver. See Job 39:5-7. Man thinks himself as much at liberty, and his own master, as the wild ass’s colt does, that is used to the wilderness (Jer. 2:24), eager to gratify his own appetites and passions. 4. Yet he is a proud creature and self-conceited. He would be wise, would he thought so, values himself upon the honour of wisdom, though he will not submit to the laws of wisdom. He would be wise, that is, he reaches after forbidden wisdom, and, like his first parents, aiming to be wise above what is written, loses the tree of life for the tree of knowledge. Now is such a creature as this fit to contend with God or call him to an account? Did we but better know God and ourselves, we should better know how to conduct ourselves towards God.