Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do wrong, and for the Almighty to act unjustly.
I. IN HIS ABSOLUTE IMPARTIALITY TOWARDS MAN. "He accepteth not the person of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor." Truly there is no respect of persons with God. "The work of a man shall he render to him n (ver. 11), be it good or evil.
II. IN THE PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE DIVINE NAME is to be found the utmost pledge of justness. "Surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment" (ver. 12). "For he will not lay upon man more than right" (ver. 23). This is further illustrated -
III. IN THE SELF-IMPOSED GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD. "Who hath given him a charge over the earth?" If he please he can "gather unto himself his spirit and his breath." Then would "all flesh perish together, and man would turn again to dust." He has no temptation to depart from right in his dealings with men, since all are entirely in his hand. But a further and striking evidence of the righteousness of the Divine ways is seen -
IV. IN THE JUDGMENT UPON THE UNGODLY, The evil ones "he striketh as wicked men in the open sight of others' (ver. 26). Elihu finds a further confirmation of this -
V. IN THE EFFECTUAL PURPOSES OF THE DIVINE BENIGNITY. "When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" etc. (ver. 29). All this is done "that the hypocrite reign not." From all this he would lead Job to confession. "If I have done iniquity, I will do no more." So must the purpose of the righteous ways of God be to lead:
1. To consciousness of evil.
2. To confession of known wrong.
3. To amendment of life.
4. To patience under Divine afflictions.
This Elihu teaches, though he knows not yet the purpose of Job's suffering. - R.G.
I. GOD CANNOT WISH THAT ANY HUMAN MIND SHOULD CONTINUE UNCONVERTED. It would be strange indeed if He did. It is blasphemy to think that God should wish any creature to commit sin. The holy God cannot wish any human mind either to begin to be unholy, or to continue to be unholy.
Neither will the Almighty pervert Justice.
I. GOD IS, AND CANNOT BUT BE, JUST IN ALL HIS ACTIONS. There being necessarily in nature a difference of things, which is what we call natural good and evil, and a variety in the dispositions and qualifications of persons, which is what we call moral good and evil, from the due or undue adjustment of these natural qualities of things to the moral qualifications of persons, arise unavoidably the notions of right and wrong. Now, the will of every intelligent agent being always directed by some motive, it is plain Chat the natural motive of action, where nothing irregular interposes, can be no other than this right or reason of things. Whenever this right and reason are not made the rule of action, it can only be, either because the agent is ignorant of what is right, or wants ability to pursue it, or else is knowingly and willingly diverted from it, by the hope of some good, or fear of some evil. But none of these causes of injustice can possibly have any place in God. His actions must necessarily be directed by right, and reason, and justice only. It is sometimes argued that the actions of God must needs be just, for whatever He does is just, because He does it. But this argument is not proving, but supposing the thing in question. It has been unworthily used, as if, because whatever God does is certainly just, therefore whatsoever unjust and unreasonable things men, in their systems of Divinity ascribe to Him, were made just and reasonable by supposing God to be the author of them. Or that, God being all-powerful, therefore whatever is ascribed to Him, though in itself it may seem unjust, and would be unjust among men, yet by supreme power is made just and right. Upon this kind of reasoning is built the doctrine of absolute reprobation, and some other the like opinions. But this is speaking deceitfully for God. In Scripture, God perpetually appeals to the common reason and natural judgment of mankind for the equity Of His dealings with them.
II. WHEREIN THE NATURE OF GOD'S JUSTICE CONSISTS. Justice is of two sorts. There is a justice which consists in a distribution of equality; and there is a justice which consists in a distribution of equity. Of this latter sort is the justice of God. In the matter of punishment, His justice requires that it should always be apportioned with the most strict exactness, to the degree or demerit of the crime. The particulars wherein this justice consists are —
1. An impartiality with regard to persons.
2. An equity of distribution with regard to things; that is, the observing an exact proportion in the several particular degrees of reward and punishment, as Well as an impartiality and determining what persons shall be in general rewarded or punished.
III. OBJECTIONS ARISING FROM PARTICULAR CASES AGAINST THE GENERAL DOCTRINE OF THE DIVINE JUSTICE.
1. From the unequal distributions of providence in the present life. This is answered by the belief of a future state, wherein, by the exactness and precise equity of the final determinations of the great day, shall be abundantly made up all the little inequalities of this short life. There are also many special reasons of these seeming inequalities. God frequently afflicts the righteous, for the trial and improvement of their virtue, for the exercise of their patience, or the correction of their faults. On the other hand, God frequently, for no less wise reasons, defers the punishing of the wicked. Besides these, there are also particular difficulties arising from singular inequalities, even with regard to spiritual advantages.The uses of this discourse are —
1. Let us acknowledge and submit to the Divine justice, and show forth our due sense and fear of it in the course of our lives.
2. A right notion of the justice of God is matter of comfort to good men.
3. The justice of God is a matter of terror to all wicked and unrighteous men, how great and powerful soever they may be.
4. From a consideration of the justice of God arises a true notion of the heinousness of sin.
5. If God, who is all-powerful and supreme, yet always confines Himself to what is just, how dare mortal men insult and tyrannise over each other, and think themselves by power and force discharged from all obligations of equity towards their fellow creatures?
(S. Clarke, D. D.)
II. GOD CANNOT WISH THAT ANY HUMAN BEING SHOULD PERISH. God has declared that they shall. It is inevitable in order to the ends of justice, and the maintenance of His moral government. But, then, He does not desire this issue. To say He did would be to say that God is malevolent. He cannot take any pleasure in suffering.
III. GOD HAS NOT DECREED THAT ANY SINGLE MIND SHOULD CONTINUE UNCONVERTED AND SHOULD PERISH. There is no such decree. If there were, it would be substantially the same with the last, only that it would be underhand and clandestine. It would be charging God, not only with sin, but with cowardice and hypocrisy.
IV. GOD NEVER ACTS WITH THE VIEW THAT ANY SHOULD CONTINUE UNCONVERTED AND SHOULD PERISH. God never operates upon the mind with this view. He never interposes difficulties in the way of its conversion, and with a view to its perdition. God does wish that every human mind should be converted and saved.
1. Prove this from God's words.
2. The actions of God will be found in harmony with His word.
3. Prove this from the death Of Christ.
4. This doctrine is deducible from the entire plan of salvation.
(John Young, M. A.)
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