Eliphaz here advances another argument to prove Job a hypocrite, and will have not only his impatience under his afflictions to be evidence against him but even his afflictions themselves, being so very great and extraordinary, and there being no prospect at all of his deliverance out of them. To strengthen his argument he here lays down these two principles, which seem plausible enough:—
I. That good men were never thus ruined. For the proof of this he appeals to Job’s own observation (Job 4:7): “Remember, I pray thee; recollect all that thou hast seen, heard, or read, and give me an instance of any one that was innocent and righteous, and yet perished as thou dost, and was cut off as thou art.” If we understand it of a final and eternal destruction, his principle is true. None that are innocent and righteous perish for ever: it is only a man of sin that is a son of perdition, 2 Thess. 2:3. But then it is ill applied to Job; he did not thus perish, nor was he cut off: a man is never undone till he is in hell. But, if we understand it of any temporal calamity, his principle is not true. The righteous perish (Isa. 57:1): there is one event both to the righteous and to the wicked (Eccl. 9:2), both in life and death; the great and certain difference is after death. Even before Job’s time (as early as it was) there were instances sufficient to contradict this principle. Did not righteous Abel perish being innocent? and was he not cut off in the beginning of his days? Was not righteous Lot burnt out of house and harbour, and forced to retire to a melancholy cave? Was not righteous Jacob a Syrian ready to perish? Deut. 26:5. Other such instances, no doubt, there were, which are not on record.
II. That wicked men were often thus ruined. For the proof of this he vouches his own observation (Job 4:8): “Even as I have seen, many a time, those that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap accordingly; by the blast of God they perish, Job 4:9. We have daily instances of that; and therefore, since thou dost thus perish and art consumed, we have reason to think that, whatever profession of religion thou hast made, thou hast but ploughed iniquity and sown wickedness. Even as I have seen in others, so do I see in thee.”
1. He speaks of sinners in general, politic busy sinners, that take pains in sin, for they plough iniquity; and expect gain by sin, for they sow wickedness. Those that plough plough in hope, but what is the issue? They reap the same. They shall of the flesh reap corruption and ruin, Gal. 6:7, 8. The harvest will be a heap in the day of grief and desperate sorrow, Isa. 17:11. He shall reap the same, that is, the proper product of that seedness. That which the sinner sows, he sows not that body that shall be, but God will give it a body, a body of death, the end of those things, Rom. 6:21. Some, by iniquity and wickedness, understand wrong and injury done to others. Those who plough and sow them shall reap the same, that is, they shall be paid in their own coin. Those who are troublesome shall be troubled, 2 Thess. 1:6; Josh. 7:25. The spoilers shall be spoiled (Isa. 33:1), and those that led captive shall go captive, Rev. 13:10. He further describes their destruction (Job 4:9): By the blast of God they perish. The projects they take so much pains in are defeated; God cuts asunder the cords of those ploughers, Ps. 129:3, 4. They themselves are destroyed, which is the just punishment of their iniquity. They perish, that is, they are destroyed utterly; they are consumed, that is, they are destroyed gradually; and this by the blast and breath of God, that is, (1.) By his wrath. His anger is the ruin of sinners, who are therefore called vessels of wrath, and his breath is said to kindle Tophet, Isa. 30:33. Who knows the power of his anger? Ps. 90:11. (2.) By his word. He speaks and it is done, easily and effectually. The Spirit of God, in the word, consumes sinners; with that he slays them, Hos. 6:5. Saying and doing are not two things with God. The man of sin is said to be consumed with the breath of Christ’s mouth, 2 Thess. 2:8; Isa. 11:4; Rev. 19:21. Some think that in attributing the destruction of sinners to the blast of God, and the breath of his nostrils, he refers to the wind which blew the house down upon Job’s children, as if they were therefore sinners above all men because they suffered such things. Luke 13:2.
2. He speaks particularly of tyrants and cruel oppressors, under the similitude of lions, Job 4:10, 11. Observe, (1.) How he describes their cruelty and oppression. The Hebrew tongue has five several names for lions, and they are all here used to set forth the terrible tearing power, fierceness, and cruelty, of proud oppressors. They roar, and rend, and prey upon all about them, and bring up their young ones to do so too, Ezek. 19:3. The devil is a roaring lion; and they partake of his nature, and do his lusts. They are strong as lions, and subtle (Ps. 10:9; 17:12); and, as far as they prevail, they lay all desolate about them. (2.) How he describes their destruction, the destruction both of their power and of their persons. They shall be restrained from doing further hurt and reckoned with for the hurt they have done. An effectual course shall be taken, [1.] That they shall not terrify. The voice of their roaring shall be stopped. [2.] That they shall not tear. God will disarm them, will take away their power to do hurt: The teeth of the young lions are broken. See Ps. 3:7. Thus shall the remainder of wrath be restrained. [3.] That they shall not enrich themselves with the spoil of their neighbours. Even the old lion is famished, and perishes for lack of prey. Those that have surfeited on spoil and rapine are perhaps reduced to such straits as to die of hunger at last. [4.] That they shall not, as they promise themselves, leave a succession: The stout lion’s whelps are scattered abroad, to seek for food themselves, which the old ones used to bring in for them, Nah. 2:12. The lion did tear in pieces for his whelps, but now they must shift for themselves. Perhaps Eliphaz intended, in this, to reflect upon Job, as if he, being the greatest of all the men of the east, had got his estate by spoil and used his power in oppressing his neighbours, but now his power and estate were gone, and his family was scattered: if so, it was a pity that a man whom God praised should be thus abused.