Job 21 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Job 21)

Verse 2

[2] Hear diligently my speech, and let this be your consolations.

Hear, … — If you have no other comfort to administer, at least afford me this. And it will be a comfort to yourselves in the reflection, to have dealt tenderly with your afflicted friend.

Verse 3

[3] Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.

Speak — without interruption.

Mock — If I do not defend my cause with solid arguments, go on in your scoffs.

Verse 4

[4] As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled

Is — I do not make my complaint to, or expect relief from you, or from any men, hut from God only: I am pouring forth my complaints to God.

If — If my complaint were to man, have I not cause?

Verse 5

[5] Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth.

Mark — Consider what I am about to say concerning the prosperity of the worst of men, and the pressures of some good men, and it is able to fill you with astonishment.

Lay, … — Be silent.

Verse 6

[6] Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.

Remember — The very remembrance of what is past, fills me with dread and horror.

Verse 13

[13] They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.

Moment — They do not die of a lingering and tormenting disease.

Verse 14

[14] Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.

Therefore — Because of their constant prosperity.

Say — Sometimes in words, but commonly in their thoughts and the language of their lives.

Verse 16

[16] Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.

Lo — But wicked men have no reason to reject God, because of their prosperity, for their wealth, is not in their hand; neither obtained, nor kept by their own might, but only by God's power and favour. Therefore I am far from approving their opinion, or following their course.

Verse 17

[17] How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in his anger.

Often — I grant that this happens often though not constantly, as you affirm.

Lamp — Their glory and outward happiness.

Verse 19

[19] God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.

Layeth up — In his treasures, Romans 2:5.

Iniquity — The punishment of his iniquity; he will punish him both in his person and in his posterity.

Verse 20

[20] His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

See — He shall be destroyed; as to see death, is to die.

Verse 21

[21] For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst?

For, … — What delight can ye take in the thoughts of his posterity, when he is dying an untimely death? When that number of months, which by the course of nature, he might have lived, is cut off by violence.

Verse 22

[22] Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.

Teach — How to govern the world? For so you do, while you tell him that he must not afflict the godly, nor give the wicked prosperity. That he must invariably punish the wicked, and reward the righteous in this world. No: he will act as sovereign, and with great variety in his providential dispensations.

High — The highest persons, on earth, he exactly knows them, and gives sentence concerning them, as he sees fit.

Verse 25

[25] And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure.

Another — Another wicked man. So there is a great variety of God's dispensations; he distributes great prosperity to one, and great afflictions to another, according to his wise but secret counsel.

Verse 26

[26] They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.

Alike — All these worldly differences are ended by death, and they lie in the grave without any distinction. So that no man can tell who is good, and who is bad by events which befall them in this life. And if one wicked man die in a palace, and another in a dungeon, they will meet in the congregation of the dead and damned; and the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched will be the same to both: which makes those differences inconsiderable, and not worth perplexing ourselves about.

Verse 27

[27] Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me.

Me — I know that your discourses, though they be of wicked, men in general, yet are particularly levelled at me.

Verse 29

[29] Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens,

Them — Any person that passes along the high-way, every one you meet with. It is so vulgar a thing, that no man of common sense is ignorant of it.

Tokens — The examples, or evidences, of this truth, which they that go by the way can produce.

Verse 30

[30] That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.

They — He speaks of the same person; only the singular number is changed into the plural, possibly to intimate, that altho' for the present only some wicked men were punished, yet then all of them should suffer.

Brought — As malefactors are brought forth from prison to execution.

Verse 31

[31] Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?

Declare — His power and splendor are so great, that scarce any man dare reprove him.

Verse 32

[32] Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.

And — The pomp of his death shall be suitable to the glory of his life.

Brought — With pomp and state, as the word signifies.

Grave — Heb. to the graves; to an honourable and eminent grave: the plural number being used emphatically to denote eminency. He shall not die a violent but a natural death.

Verse 33

[33] The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.

Valley — Of the grave, which is low and deep like a valley.

Sweet — He shall sweetly rest in his grave.

Draw — Heb. he shall draw every man after him, into the grave, all that live after him, whether good or bad, shall follow him to the grave, shall die as he did. So he fares no worse herein than all mankind. He is figuratively said to draw them, because they come after him, as if they were drawn by his example.

Verse 34

[34] How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood

How — Why then do you seek to comfort me with vain hopes of recovering my prosperity, seeing your grounds are false, and experience shews, that good men are often in great tribulation, while the vilest of men prosper.

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