*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
For God speaketh once - The object of what is here said is, to show the reason why God brings affliction upon people, or to explain the principles of his government which Elihu supposed had been sadly misunder stood by Job and his friends. The reason why he brings affliction, Elihu says, is because all other means of reclaiming and restraining people fail. He communicates his will to them; he speaks to them again and again in dreams and visions; he warns them of the error of their course Job 33:14-17, and when this is all ineffectual he brings upon them affliction. He lays them upon their bed where they must reflect, and where there is hope that they may be reclaimed and reformed, Job 33:18-28.
Yea, twice - He does not merely admonish him once. He repeats the admonition when man refuses to hear him the first time, and takes all the methods which he can by admonition and warning to withdraw him from his wicked purpose, and to keep him from ruin.
Yet man perceiveth it not - Or, rather, "Although he does not perceive it or attend to it." Though the sinner is regardless of the admonition, yet still God repeats it, and endeavors to save him from the commission of the crimes which would lead him to ruin. This is designed to show the patience and forbearance of God, and how many means he takes to save the sinner from ruin. Of the truth of what Elihu here says, there can be no difference of opinion. It is one of the great principles of the divine administration that the sinner is often warned, though he heeds it not; and that God sends repeated admonitions even when people will not regard them, but are bent on their own ruin.
For God speaketh once - Though he will not be summoned to the bar of his creatures, nor condescend to detail the reasons of his conduct, which they could not comprehend, yet he so acts, in the main, that the operation of his hand and the designs of his counsel may sufficiently appear, provided men had their eyes open upon his ways, and their hearts open to receive his influence. Elihu, having made the general statement that God would not come to the bar of his creatures to give account of his conduct, shows the general means which he uses to bring men to an acquaintance with themselves and with him: he states these in the six following particulars, which may be collected from Job 33:15-24.
For God speaketh (f) once, yea twice, [yet man] perceiveth it not.
(f) Though God by various examples of his judgments speak to man, yet the reason for it is not known, yea and though God should speak yet is he not understood.
For God speaketh once, yea, twice,.... Or, "but God speaketh" (i); though he is not bound to give an account of his matters, and the reasons of his proceedings in a way of providence or grace; yet such is his condescension and goodness, that he makes use of various ways and means to make known his mind and will in his dispensations, if men were but attentive to them; he speaks once, in dreams and visions, as in Job 33:15; and twice, or a second time, by chastisements, as in Job 33:18; or he speaks frequently, again and again, see Psalm 62:11; gives line upon line, and precept upon precept; if one way is without effect, he will take another; and if one warning and admonition is not sufficient, he will give another; so that though he is a sovereign Being, and not accountable to any, yet he does not act the unkind and unfriendly part Job had suggested:
yet man perceiveth it not: the voice of God speaking in one way or another; hearkens not to the admonition given in a dream or vision, nor hears the chastising rod, and him that has appointed it; he is deaf to all instructions; he understands not the mind and meaning of God in his dispensations; which is not owing to want of means of knowledge, but to the blindness and ignorance of his mind, to dulness of hearing, to negligence and inattention, and to the prevalence of sin and corruption: the words, "yet man", are a supplement to the text, and not in it, and some versions are without it, and understand the whole of God, rendering the words thus, "God speaketh once, and a second time he does not repeat it"; so the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions: or "does not revise it", or "will not see it" (k); to which agrees the Targum,
"and a second time he needs not to look upon it;''
and which rendering, as it suits with the context, so is more agreeable to the accents; but is differently applied, by some to the sufficiency of the word of God, that God has at once made known all truth, and there is no need to do it a second time; but certain it is, that God did at sundry times, and in divers manners, speak unto the fathers by the prophets; though indeed in these last days he hath spoken at once all his mind and will by his Son, so that no future revelation is to be expected; but though this is true now, it was not in the times of Elihu: by others it is referred to God's dealings with a proud man, that calls him to an account for his actions, to whom he speaks once, and reproves him for his boldness; but a second time he will not look at him, nor bear his pride and insolence: and by others to the unalterable decrees and purposes of God; what he has said or determined in his eternal mind is done at once, and remains invariably fixed; he has no need to look over a second time, or revise his first thoughts and designs, or reconsider them, whether it is proper to make any alteration in them or not, they are at once so wisely formed; and he has all things before him in one view in his all comprehending mind, so that there cannot possibly anything turn up unforeseen by him, to hinder the execution of his purposes, or cause him to make any change in them; no new thoughts, resolutions, or purposes, can arise in his mind, with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning. This agrees well with his sovereignty, expressed in Job 33:13, and carries in it a strong reason enforcing what is there said. Though some take the meaning to be this, that God speaks once to a man, and admonishes and reproves him as he used to do, in the way expressed in the following verse; and if he regards it not, he do not speak to him a second time in that way, or no more by words, but now by blows or chastisements.
(i) "sed", Beza, Piscator. (k) "secundo non revidet", Schmidt & Maius apud Michaelis; "et secunda vice non videbit illud", Schultens.
God speaks to us by conscience, by providences, and by ministers; of all these Elihu discourses. There was not then, that we know of, any Divine revelation in writing, though now it is our principal guide. When God designs men's good, by the convictions and dictates of their own consciences, he opens the heart, as Lydia's, and opens the ears, so that conviction finds or forces its way in. The end and design of these admonitions are to keep men from sin, particularly the sin of pride. While sinners are pursuing evil purposes, and indulging their pride, their souls are hastening to destruction. That which turns men from sin, saves them from hell. What a mercy it is to be under the restraints of an awakened conscience!
Translate, "Yet, man regardeth it not"; or rather, as UMBREIT, "Yea, twice (He repeats the warning)--if man gives no heed" to the first warning. Elihu implies that God's reason for sending affliction is because, when God has communicated His will in various ways, man in prosperity has not heeded it; God therefore must try what affliction will effect (John 15:2; Psalm 62:11; Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:13).
Yet - Although he doth not give men an account of his matters, yet he doth that which is sufficient for them. Twice - When once speaking doth not awaken men, God is graciously pleased to give them another admonition: though he will not gratify men's curiosity in enquiring into his hidden judgments, yet he will acquaint them with their duty. God speaks to us by conscience, by providence, and by ministers, of all which Elihu here treats at large, to shew Job, that God was now telling him his mind, and endeavouring to do him good. He shews first, how God admonishes men by their own consciences.
*More commentary available at chapter level.