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Job 5:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He taketh the wise in their own craftiness - So counterworks them as to cause their feet to be taken in their own snares, and their evil dealings to fall on their own pate. Such frequent proofs has God given of his especial interference in behalf of the innocent, who have been the objects of the plots and evil designs of the wicked, by turning those evil devices against their framers, that he who digs a pit for his neighbor shall fall into it himself has become a universal adage, and has passed, either in so many words or in sense, into all the languages of all the people of the earth. Lucretius expresses it strongly:

Circumretit enim vis atque injuria quemque,

Atque, unde exorta est, ad eum plerumque revortit.

Lucret. lib. v., ver. 1151.

"For force and wrong entangle the man that uses them;

And, for the most part, recoil on the head of the contriver."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He taketh the wise in their own craftiness - This passage is quoted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:19, with the usual formula in referring to the Old Testament, γέγραπται γάρ gegraptai gar “for it is written,” showing that he regarded it as a part of the inspired oracles of God. The word “wise” here undoubtedly means the cunning, the astute, the crafty, and the designing. It cannot mean those who are truly wise in the Scripture sense; but the meaning is, that those who form plans which they expect to accomplish by cunning and craft, are often the victims of their own designs. The same sentiment not unfrequently occurs in the Scriptures and elsewhere, and has all the aspect of being a proverb. Thus, in Psalm 7:15:

He made a pit and digged it,

And is fallen into the ditch which he made.”

So Psalm 9:15:

The pagan are sunk down into the pit that they made;

In the net which they hid is their own foot taken.”

So Psalm 35:8:

Let his net that he hath bid catch himself

Into that very destruction let him fall.”

So Psalm 37:15:

Their sword shall enter into their own heart,

And their bow shall be broken.”

Compare Eurip. Med. 409:

Κακῶν δὲ πάντων τέκτονες σοφώταται

Kakōn de pantōn tektones sofōtatai also the same sentiment in Lucretius, v. 1151:

Circumretit enim visatque injuria quemque,

Atque, unde exorta cst, ad caim plerumque revertit.

“For force and rapine in their craftiest neta

Oft their own sons entangle; and the plague Ten-fold recoils.”

It is to be remembered that Eliphaz here speaks of his own observation, and of that as a reason for putting confidence in God. The sentiment is, that he had observed that a straightforward, honest, and upright course, was followed with the divine favor and blessing; but that a man who attempted to carry his plans by intrigue and stratagem, would not be permanently successfu. Sooner or later his cunning would recoil upon himself, and he would experience the disastrous consequences of such a course. It is still true. A man is always sure of ultimate success and prosperity, if he is straightforward and honest. He never can be sure of it, if he attempts to carry his plans by management. Other men may evince as much cunning as himself; and when his net springs, it may include himself as well as those for whom he set it. It will be well for him if it is not made to spring on him, while others escape.

And the counsel of the froward - The design of the perverse. The word here rendered “froward,” נפתלים nı̂pâthalı̂ym is from פתל pâthal to twist, to twine, to spin. It then means, to be twisted, crooked, crafty, deceitful. Here it means those who are crooked, artful, designing. Septuagint, πολυπλόκων poluplokōn the involved - the much-entangled.

Is carried headlong - Hebrew is precipitated, or hastened. There is not time for it to be matured; there is a development of the scheme before it is ripe, and the trick is detected before there is time to put it in execution. Nothing can be more true than this often is now. Something that could not be anticipated develops the design, and brings the dark plot out to mid-day; and God shows that he is the foe of all such schemes.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Eliphaz reminds Job, that no affliction comes by chance, nor is to be placed to second causes. The difference between prosperity and adversity is not so exactly observed, as that between day and night, summer and winter; but it is according to the will and counsel of God. We must not attribute our afflictions to fortune, for they are from God; nor our sins to fate, for they are from ourselves. Man is born in sin, and therefore born to trouble. There is nothing in this world we are born to, and can truly call our own, but sin and trouble. Actual transgressions are sparks that fly out of the furnace of original corruption. Such is the frailty of our bodies, and the vanity of all our enjoyments, that our troubles arise thence as the sparks fly upward; so many are they, and so fast does one follow another. Eliphaz reproves Job for not seeking God, instead of quarrelling with him. Is any afflicted? let him pray. It is heart's ease, a salve for every sore. Eliphaz speaks of rain, which we are apt to look upon as a little thing; but if we consider how it is produced, and what is produced by it, we shall see it to be a great work of power and goodness. Too often the great Author of all our comforts, and the manner in which they are conveyed to us, are not noticed, because they are received as things of course. In the ways of Providence, the experiences of some are encouragements to others, to hope the best in the worst of times; for it is the glory of God to send help to the helpless, and hope to the hopeless. And daring sinners are confounded, and forced to acknowledge the justice of God's proceedings.
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