What man is like Job, who drinks up scorn like water?
All Commentaries on Job 34:7 Go To Job 34
Gregory The Dialogist
Behold, in seeking a judgment, he has pronounced a judgment; and after his own allegation, without waiting for any statement of blessed Job, he condemned him as deserving of condemnation from his intercourse with the wicked. For he says, What man is like Job? That we may be sure to understand, No one. And he subjoins, Who drinketh up scorning like water. For water, when drunk, is so liquid a draught, that it is not kept from being swallowed by any clamminess that it has. But to drink up scorning as water, is to mock God without any impediment in one’s thoughts, so that no fear opposes the pride, which the tongue or the mind displays. But how far this judgment of his upon blessed Job errs from the roadway of truth, we learn from that solemn declaration of God, in which He says to the devil, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth? [Job 1, 8] Behold how Eliu declares him to be a sinner beyond comparison, whom the Truth pronounces to be righteous beyond comparison. But it is the peculiar way with haughty preachers, that they are more desirous of strictly reproving their hearers even when distressed, than to cherish them in a kindly manner. For they study more to chide and reprove faults, than to encourage goodness with praise. For they are anxious to appear superior to other people, and they are better pleased when anger raises their feelings than when charity brings them down. They ever wish to find something, to smite sharply with reproof. Whence it is written, In the mouth of the, foolish is a rod of pride, [Prov. 14, 3] because in truth he knows how to smite sharply, but not to sympathize with humility.
41. Holy preachers are also accustomed to reprove their hearers with sharp words, and to rage with strict severity against their sins: as it is written, The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened deep. [Eccles. 12, 11] But their words are rightly called nails, since they do not know how to handle gently the sins of offenders, but how to pierce them through. Were not the words of John nails, when he said, O generation of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come’? [Matt. 3, 7] Were not the words of Stephen nails, when he said, Ye have always resisted the Holy Ghost? [Acts 7, 51] Were not the words of Paul, when he said, O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you? [Gal 3, 1] and again when saying to the Corinthians, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? [1 Cor. 3, 3] But it is necessary for us to look carefully: for when righteous preachers observe on the other hand any good deeds in those whom they reprove, with what just consideration do they proceed to use these same words of reproof. Behold! Paul, when instructing the Corinthians, and seeing them guilty of the sin of schism, began by saying, I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God, which is given you in Christ Jesus, that in every thing ye are enriched by Him. [l Cor. l, 4, 5] He praised them much in saying, that they were enriched in Christ in all things. And, lo! he again multiplies his soothing expressions, by saying, In all utterance, and in all knowledge, as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. [1 Cor. 5, 6] He said, the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, as though they had carried out in their conduct, what they had learned from his teaching. And he subjoined just after, in summing up their praises, So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Cor. 1, 7] I pray thee, O Paul, inform us what art thou aiming at by these numerous words of favour? And, lo! it follows shortly after, But I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you. For it hath been signified unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. [l Cor. l, 10. 11.] Of which contentions he afterwards added, saying, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? [1 Cor. 3, 3] See with what praises he comes down to plain words of reproof; see with how gentle a hand of kindness he has opened the way for strict rebuke in the hearts of his hearers. For he first endeavoured to bind the arms of the proud by the bands of blandishments, in order to cut afterwards into the sore of their pride with the knife of correction. The Corinthians in truth possessed qualities which deserved praise, and such also as deserved reproof. The skilful physician then first caressed with praises the sound limbs about the wound, and afterwards pierced with a blow the putrid cavity of the wound. This rule of teaching has its weight with holy preachers on either side, so that they favour and cherish what is right, and cut off with punishment what is wrong.
42. But frequently holy preachers too strike severely. But it is one thing when justice urges on, another when pride puffs up. The righteous, when severely correcting, do not lose the grace of inward sweetness. For they frequently adopt the harshness of strict vigour, in order to keep in check the disorderly passions of the wicked, but they melt within with the fire of charity, and glow with affection towards those, against whom they are raging with severe reproof. And they humble themselves moreover beneath them in the secret of their heart within, while they seem to scorn and chasten them in the sight of men with the sharp stings of punishment. But they frequently both despise by not despising them, and despair by not despairing, in order that they may lead them to fear, and to shrink back the more speedily from sin, the more they point out to them that the pit of destruction is, as it were, nearer to them. But they frequently also point out their own faults to their disciples, in a kind of graceful temperament, in order that they may hear and learn, how strictly they censure themselves for their own conduct. But they regulate themselves with such judgment, as not to be severe within, even when they exalt themselves; nor again, when humbling themselves, outwardly remiss: for they keep up humility in their discipline, and discipline in their humility. Paul maintained discipline, when saying to the Corinthians, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? [1 Cor. 3, 3] But even when maintaining discipline he lost not his humility; because he began by deprecation, saying, I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of God, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you. [1 Cor. 1, 10] Again he maintained humility, when, on speaking somewhat more at length than perhaps he had wished to the same Corinthians, he reproves himself, saying, I am become a fool. [2 Cor. 12, 11] Yet in this humility he did not give up discipline, since he immediately ‘added, Ye have compelled me. He exhibited an instance of great humility, when he said to his disciples, For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Christ. [2 Cor. 4, 5] But he lost not in this humility the justness of discipline, for he says to the same, offending, What will ye? shall I come to you with a rod? [1 Cor. 4, 21] and so on. Holy preachers therefore well know how to regulate their skill in teaching by moderation on either side, and when they detect the faults of offenders, they have the art to reprove severely at one time, and humbly to deprecate at another. But when haughty men seek to imitate them, they adopt from them their sharp words of reproof, but know not how to adopt from them with sincerity the entreaties of humility. For they are better able to be terrific, than gentle; and they learn accordingly reasons for setting themselves up, though they neglect to learn humility. And since they do not know how to admonish offenders with gentleness, from their habit of being over severe in angry invective, they let themselves loose even against good doers. And this Eliu, as representing such persons, does not comfort Job, but reproves him, saying, What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning as water, who goeth with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men. And because pride is ever a stranger to truth, he presently launches out even in falsehood.