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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 9–15
Verses 9–15

Two more instances we have here of Job’s integrity:—

I. That he had a very great abhorrence of the sin of adultery. As he did not wrong his own marriage bed by keeping a concubine (he did not so much as think upon a maid, Job 31:1), so he was careful not to offer any injury to his neighbour’s marriage bed. Let us see here, 1. How clear he was from this sin, Job 31:9. (1.) He did not so much as covet his neighbour’s wife; for even his heart was not deceived by a woman. The beauty of another man’s wife did not kindle in him any unchaste desires, nor was he ever moved by the allurements of an adulterous woman, such as is described, Prov. 7:6-21 See the original of all the defilements of the life; they come from a deceived heart. Every sin is deceitful, and none more so than the sin of uncleanness. (2.) He never compassed or imagined any unchaste design. He never laid wait at his neighbour’s door, to get an opportunity to debauch his wife in his absence, when the good man was not at home, Prov. 7:19. See Job 24:15. 2. What a dread he had of this sin, and what frightful apprehensions he had concerning the malignity of it—that it was a heinous crime (Job 31:11), one of the greatest vilest sins a man can be guilty of, highly provoking to God, and destructive to the prosperity of the soul. With respect to the mischievousness of it, and the punishment it deserved, he owns that, if he were guilty of that heinous crime, (1.) His family might justly be made infamous in the highest degree (Job 31:10): Let my wife grind to another. Let her be a slave (so some), a harlot, so others. God often punishes the sins of one with the sin of another, the adultery of the husband with the adultery of the wife, as in David’s case (2 Sam. 12:11), which does not in the least excuse the treachery of the adulterous wife; but, how unrighteous soever she is, God is righteous. See Hos. 4:13; Your spouses shall commit adultery. Note, Those who are not just and faithful to their relations must not think it strange if their relations be unjust and unfaithful to them. (2.) He himself might justly be made a public example: For it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges; yea, though those who are guilty of it are themselves judges, as Job was. Note, Adultery is a crime which the civil magistrate ought to take cognizance of and punish: so it was adjudged even in the patriarchal age, before the law of Moses made it capital. It is an evil work, to which the sword of justice ought to be a terror. (3.) It might justly become the ruin of his estate; nay, he knew it would be so (Job 31:12): It is a fire. Lust is a fire in the soul: those that indulge it are said to burn. It consumes all that is good there (the convictions, the comforts), and lays the conscience waste. It kindles the fire of God’s wrath, which, if not extinguished by the blood of Christ, will burn to the lowest hell. It will consume even to that eternal destruction. It consumes the body, Prov. 5:11. It consumes the substance; it roots out all the increase. Burning lusts bring burning judgments. Perhaps it alludes to the burning of Sodom, which was intended for an example to those who should afterwards, in like manner, live ungodly.

II. That he had a very great tenderness for his servants and ruled them with a gentle hand. He had a great household and he managed it well. By this he evidenced his sincerity that he had grace to govern his passion as well as his appetite; and he that in these two things has the rule of his own spirit is better than the mighty, Prov. 16:32. Here observe, 1. What were Job’s condescensions to his servants (Job 31:13): He did not despise the cause of his man-servant, no, nor of his maid-servant, when they contended with him. If they contradicted him in any thing, he was willing to hear their reasons. If they had offended him, or were accused to him, he would patiently hear what they had to say for themselves, in their own vindication or excuse. Nay, if they complained of any hardship he put upon them, he did not browbeat them, and bid them hold their tongues, but gave them leave to tell their story, and redressed their grievances as far as it appeared they had right on their side. He was tender of them, not only when they served and pleased him, but even when they contended with him. Herein he was a great example to masters, to give to their servants that which is just and equal; nay, to do the same things to them that they expect from them (Col. 4:1; Eph. 6:9), and not to rule them with rigour, and carry it with a high hand. Many of Job’s servants were slain in his service (Job 1:15-17); the rest were unkind and undutiful to him, and despised his cause, though he never despised theirs (Job 19:15, 16); but he had this comfort that in his prosperity he had behaved well towards them. Note, When relations are either removed from us or embittered to us the testimony of our consciences that we have done our duty to them will be a great support and comfort to us. 2. What were the considerations that moved him to treat his servants thus kindly. He had, herein, an eye to God, both as his Judge and their Maker. (1.) As his Judge. He considered, “If I should be imperious and severe with my servants, what then shall I do when God riseth up?” He considered that he had a Master in heaven, to whom he was accountable, who will rise up and will visit; and we are concerned to consider what we shall do in the day of his visitation (Isa. 10:3), and, considering that we should be undone if God should then be strict and severe with us, we ought to be very mild and gentle towards all with whom we have to do. Consider what would become of us if God should be extreme to mark what we do amiss, should take all advantages against us and insist upon all his just demands from us—if he should visit every offence, and take every forfeiture—if he should always chide, and keep his anger for ever. And let not us be rigorous with our inferiors. Consider what will become of us if we be cruel and unmerciful to our brethren. The cries of the injured will be heard; the sins of the injurious will be punished. Those that showed no mercy shall find none; and what shall we do then? (2.) As his and his servants’ Creator, Job 31:15. When he was tempted to be harsh with his servants, to deny them their right and turn a deaf ear to their reasonings, this thought came very seasonably into his mind, “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? I am a creature as well as he, and my being is derived and depending as well as his. He partakes of the same nature that I do and is the work of the same hand: Have we not all one Father?” Note, Whatever difference there is among men in their outward condition, in their capacity of mind, or strength of body, or place in the world, he that made the one made the other also, which is a good reason why we should not mock at men’s natural infirmities, nor trample upon those that are in any way our inferiors, but, in every thing, do as we would be done by. It is a rule of justice, Parium par sit ratio—Let equals be equally estimated and treated; and therefore since there is so great a parity among men, they being all made of the same mould, by the same power, for the same end, notwithstanding the disparity of our outward condition, we are bound so far to set ourselves upon the level with those we deal with as to do to them, in all respects, as we would they should do to us.