Job 31 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Job 31)

Verse 1

[1] I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

I made — So far have I been from any gross wickedness, that I have abstained from the least occasions and appearances of evil.

Verse 2

[2] For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?

For — What recompence may be expected from God for those who do otherwise.

Above — How secretly soever unchaste persons carry the matter, so that men cannot reprove them, yet there is one who stands upon an higher place, whence he seeth in what manner they act.

Verse 5

[5] If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;

Walked — Dealt with men.

Vanity — With lying, or falsehood.

Deceit — If when I had an opportunity of enriching myself, by wronging others, I have readily and greedily complied with It.

Verse 6

[6] Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.

Let me — I desire nothing more than to have my heart and life weighed in just balances, and searched out by the all-seeing God.

That God — Or, and he will know; (upon search he will find out: which is spoken of God after the manner of men:) Mine integrity - So this is an appeal to God to be witness of his sincerity.

Verse 7

[7] If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;

Heart — If I have let my heart loose to covet forbidden things, which mine eyes have seen: commonly sin enters by the eye into the heart.

A blot — Any unjust gain.

Verse 8

[8] Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

Increase — All my plants, and fruits, and improvements.

Verse 10

[10] Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

Then — Not as if Job desired this; but that if God should give up his wife to such wickedness, he should acknowledge his justice in it.

Verse 11

[11] For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

This — Adultery.

It is — Heb. an iniquity of the judges; which belongs to them to take cognizance of, and to punish, even with death; and that not only by the law of Moses, but even by the law of nature, as appears from the known laws and customs of the Heathen nations.

Verse 12

[12] For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.

Destruction — Lust is a fire in the soul; it consumes all that is good there, the convictions, the comforts; and lays the conscience waste. It consumes the body, consumes the substance, roots out all the increase. It kindles the fire of God's wrath, which if not quenched by the blood of Christ, will burn to the lowest hell.

Verse 16

[16] If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;

If I — Denied them what they desired of me.

To fail — With tedious expectation of my justice or charity. Job is most large upon this head, because in this matter Eliphaz had most particularly accused him.

Verse 18

[18] (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;)

Youth — As soon as I was capable of managing mine own affairs.

With me — Under my care.

A father — With all the diligence and tenderness of a father.

Her — The widow mentioned verse 16.

From — From my tender years; ever since I was capable of discerning good and evil.

Verse 19

[19] If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;

Perish — When it was in my power to help them.

Verse 21

[21] If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:

When — When I saw I could influence the judges to do what I pleased.

Verse 23

[23] For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.

For — I stood in awe of God and of his judgments.

I could not — I knew myself unable either to oppose his power, or to bear his wrath. Even good men have need to restrain themselves from sin, with the fear of Destruction from God. Even when salvation from God is a comfort to us, yet destruction from God should be a terror to us. Adam in innocency was awed by a threatning.

Verse 26

[26] If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;

I — This place speaks of the worship of the host of heaven, and especially of the sun and moon, the most eminent and glorious of that number, which was the most ancient kind of idolatry, and most frequent in the eastern countries.

Shined — In its full strength and glory.

Verse 27

[27] And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand:

Kissed — In token of worship, whereof this was a sign.

Verse 28

[28] This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.

The judge — The civil magistrate; who being advanced and protected by God, is obliged to maintain and vindicate his honour, and consequently to punish idolatry.

Denied God — Not directly but by consequence, because this was to rob God of his prerogative, by giving to the creature, that worship which is peculiar to God.

Verse 29

[29] If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him:

Lift up — Heb. stirred up myself to rejoice and insult over his misery.

Verse 31

[31] If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.

If — My domesticks and familiar friends.

His flesh — This is farther confirmation of Job's charitable disposition to his enemy. Although all who were daily conversant with him, and were witnesses of his and their carriage, were so zealous in Job's quarrel, that they protested they could eat their flesh, and could not be satisfied without. Yet he restrained both them and himself from executing vengeance upon them.

Verse 33

[33] If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:

As Adam — As Adam did in Paradise.

Verse 34

[34] Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?

Did I fear — No: all that knew Job knew him to be a man of resolution, that boldly appeared, spoke and acted, in defence of religion and justice. He durst not keep silence, or stay within, when called to speak or act for God. He was not deterred by the number, or quality, or insults of the injurious, from reproving them, and doing justice to the injured.

Verse 35

[35] Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.

Had written — Had given me his charge written in a book or paper, as the manner was in judicial proceedings. This shews that Job did not live, before letters were in use. And undoubtedly the first letters were those wrote on the two tables, by the finger of God. He wishes, his friends, who charged him with hypocrisy, would draw up the charge in writing.

Verse 36

[36] Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me.

Take it — As a trophy or badge of honour.

Verse 37

[37] I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him.

Him — My judge, or adversary.

My steps — The whole course of my life.

A prince — With undaunted courage and confidence.

Verse 38

[38] If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;

Cry — Because I have gotten it by fraud or violence.

Verse 39

[39] If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life:

Without money — Either without paying the price for the land, or by defrauding my workmen of their wages.

Life — Killing them that I might have undisturbed possession of it, as Ahab did Naboth.