Job 23:16
For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:
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(16) For God maketh my heart soft.—That is, “He has made it full of apprehension and fear, and the Almighty hath troubled me in these two respects: that He did not cut me off before the darkness, so that I had never been born, or that He did not hide darkness from mine eyes after giving me life.” (Comp. Job 3:11; Job 3:20, &c.) We may understand this of the physical suffering to which he was subjected, or of the mental distress and perplexity under which he laboured.

Job 23:16-17. For God maketh my heart soft — Or, tender; he hath bruised and broken, or melted it, so that I have no spirit, or courage, or strength in me: so this, or the like phrase, frequently signifies. There is a gracious softness of heart, like that of Josiah, whose heart was tender, and trembled at the word of God: but this is meant of an afflictive and painful softness, which apprehends every thing that is present to be pressing, and every thing that is future to be threatening. Because I was not cut off before the darkness — Because God did not cut me off by death before these dark and dismal miseries came upon me. Or, as מפני חשׁךְ, mippenei choshech, may be properly rendered, before the face, or, by reason of the darkness; that is, God hath not yet cut me off by these calamities, but prolonged my days under them, to the great increase of my misery. Neither hath he covered the darkness from my face — That I might no longer see or feel my miseries, but might be taken out of them by my long-desired death. Thus Job seems to be disposed to quarrel with God, because he did not die before his troubles; and yet, it is probable, that if, in the height of his prosperity, he had received a summons to the grave, he would have thought it hard. It may help to reconcile us to death, whenever it comes, to consider that we do not know from what evil we may be taken away. But when trouble is actually come upon us, it is folly to wish we had not lived to see it; and it is much better to look to God for grace, that we may be enabled to make the best of it; and to remember, amidst the darkness, that frequently to the upright there ariseth a marvellous light in the darkness, and that there is reserved for them a much more marvellous light after it.

23:13-17 As Job does not once question but that his trials are from the hand of God, and that there is no such thing as chance, how does he account for them? The principle on which he views them is, that the hope and reward of the faithful servants of God are only laid up in another life; and he maintains that it is plain to all, that the wicked are not treated according to their deserts in this life, but often directly the reverse. But though the obtaining of mercy, the first-fruits of the Spirit of grace, pledges a God, who will certainly finish the work which he has began; yet the afflicted believer is not to conclude that all prayer and entreaty will be in vain, and that he should sink into despair, and faint when he is reproved of Him. He cannot tell but the intention of God in afflicting him may be to produce penitence and prayer in his heart. May we learn to obey and trust the Lord, even in tribulation; to live or die as he pleases: we know not for what good ends our lives may be shortened or prolonged.For God maketh my heart soft - That is, "faint." He takes away my strength; compare the notes at Isaiah 7:4. This effect was produced on Job by the contemplation of the eternal plan and the power of God. 16. soft—faint; hath melted my courage. Here again Job's language is that of Jesus Christ (Ps 22:14). Soft, or tender. He hath bruised, and broken, or melted it, so that I have no spirit, nor courage, nor strength in me, as this or the like phrase is used, Deu 20:3 Psalm 39:11 Isaiah 7:4 Jeremiah 51:46.

For God maketh my heart soft,.... Not tender as Josiah's was, 2 Kings 22:19, or as the heart of every penitent is, when God makes it humble and contrite by his spirit and grace, or takes away the stony heart, and gives an heart of flesh; though Job had such an heart, and God made it so; but he means a weak, feeble, fearful heart, pressed and broken with afflictions, that could not endure and bear up under the mighty hand of God; but became as water, and melted like wax in the midst of him, and was ready to faint, and sink, and die away:

and the Almighty troubleth me; by afflicting him; afflictions cause trouble, and these are of God; or he "astonishes" (a), amazes me, throws me into the utmost consternation, the reason of which follows.

(a) "me attonitum reddidit", Vatablus; "consternavit me", Drusius, Mercerus, Cocceius, Michaelis; "externavit me", Schultens.

For {k} God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:

(k) That I should not be without fear.

16. For God maketh] Or, and God. The emphasis is on God; it is God,—the thought that God should act in this unrighteous manner—that makes his heart “soft,” i. e. makes him faint-hearted and terror-stricken.

Verse 16. - For God maketh my heart soft; of faint as in Leviticus 26:36 and Deuteronomy 20:3. He takes away my courage, and leaves me a prey to terror. And the Almighty troubleth me. The verb used (the hiph. form of בהל) is a very strong one, and means "hath filled me with horror and consternation? Job 23:1614 For He accomplisheth that which is appointed for me,

And much of a like kind is with Him.

15 Therefore I am troubled at His presence;

If I consider it, I am afraid of Him.

16 And God hath caused my heart to be dejected,

And the Almighty hath put me to confusion;

17 For I have not been destroyed before darkness,

And before my countenance, which thick darkness covereth.

Now it is the will of God, the absolute, which has all at once turned against him, the innocent (Job 23:13); for what He has decreed against him (חקּי) He also brings to a complete fulfilment (השׁלים, as e.g., Isaiah 44:26); and the same troubles as those which he already suffers, God has still more abundantly decreed for him, in order to torture him gradually, but surely, to death. Job intends Job 23:14 in reference to himself, not as a general assertion: it is, in general, God's way of acting. Hahn's objection to the other explanation, that Job's affliction, according to his own previous assertions, has already attained its highest degree, does not refute it; for Job certainly has a term of life before him, though it be but short, in which the wondrously inventive (Job 10:16) hostility of God can heap up ever new troubles for him. On the other hand, the interpretation of the expression in a general sense is opposed by the form of the expression itself, which is not that God delights to do this, but that He purposes (עמּו) to do it. It is a conclusion from the present concerning the future, such as Job is able to make with reference to himself; while he, moreover, abides by the reality in respect to the mysterious distribution of the fortunes of men. Therefore, because he is a mark for the enmity of God, without having merited it, he is confounded before His countenance, which is so angrily turned upon him (comp. פנים, Psalm 21:10; Lamentations 4:16); if he considers it (according to the sense fut. hypothet., as Job 23:9), he trembles before Him, who recompenses faithful attachment by such torturing pain. The following connection with ל and the mention of God twice at the beginning of the affirmations, is intended to mean: (I tremble before Him), and He it is who has made me faint-hearted (הרך Hiph. from the Kal, Deuteronomy 20:3, and freq., to be tender, soft, disconcerted), and has troubled me; which is then supported in Job 23:17.

His suffering which draws him on to ruin he perceives, but it is not the proper ground of his inward destruction; it is not the encircling darkness of affliction, not the mysterious form of his suffering which disconcerts him, but God's hostile conduct towards him, His angry countenance as he seems to see it, and which he is nevertheless unable to explain. Thus also Ew., Hirz., Vaih., Hlgst., and Schlottm. explain the passage. The only other explanation worthy of mention is that which finds in Job 23:17 the thought already expressed in Job 3:10 : For I was not then destroyed, in order that I might experience such mysterious suffering; and interpretation with which most of the old expositors were satisfied, and which has been revived by Rosenm., Stick., and Hahn. We translate: for I have not been destroyed before darkness (in order to be taken away from it before it came upon me), and He has not hidden darkness before my face; or as an exclamation: that I have not been destroyed! which is to be equivalent to: Had I but been ... ! Apart from this rendering of the quod non equals utinam, which cannot be supported, (1) It is doubly hazardous thus to carry the לא forward to the second line in connection with verbs of different persons. (2) The darkness in Job 23:17 appears (at least according to the usual interpret. caliginem) as that which is being covered, whereas it is naturally that which covers something else; wherefore Blumenfeld explains: and darkness has not hidden, viz., such pain as I must now endure, from my face. (3) The whole thought which is thus gained is without point, and meaningless, in this connection. On the other hand, the antithesis between מפּניו and מפּני, ממּנוּ and מפּני־חשׁך, is at once obvious; and this antithesis, which forces itself upon the attention, also furnishes the thought which might be expected from the context. It is unnecessary to take נצמת in a different signification from Job 6:17; in Arabic ṣmt signifies conticescere; the idea of the root, however, is in general a constraining depriving of free movement. חשׁך is intended as in the question of Eliphaz, Job 22:11 : "Or seest thou not the darkness?" to which it perhaps refers. It is impossible, with Schlottm., to translate Job 23:17: and before that darkness covers my face; מן is never other than a praep., not a conjunction with power over a whole clause. It must be translated: et a facie mea quam obtegit caligo. As the absolute פנים, Job 9:27, signifies the appearance of the countenance under pain, so here by it Job means his countenance distorted by pain, his deformed appearance, which, as the attributive clause affirms, is thoroughly darkened by suffering (comp. Job 30:30). But it is not this darkness which stares him in the face, and threatens to swallow him up (comp. מפני־חשׁך, Job 17:12); not this his miserable form, which the extremest darkness covers (on אפל, vid., Job 10:22), that destroys his inmost nature; but the thought that God stands forth in hostility against him, which makes his affliction so terrific, and doubly so in connection with the inalienable consciousness of his innocence. From the incomprehensible punishment which, without reason, is passing over him, he now again comes to speak of the incomprehensible connivance of God, which permits the godlessness of the world to go on unpunished.

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