*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
That he may withdraw man from his purpose - Margin, "work." The sense is plain. God designs to warn him of the consequences of executing a plan of iniquity. He alarms him by showing him that his course will lead to punishment, and by representing to him in the night visions, the dreadful woes of the future world into which he is about to plunge. The object is to deter him from committing the deed of guilt which he had contemplated, and to turn him to the paths of righteousness. Is it unreasonable to suppose that the same thing may occur now, and that God may have a purpose in the dreams which often visit the man who has formed a plan of iniquity, or who is living a life of sin? It cannot be doubted that such people often have alarming dreams; that these dreams are such as are fitted to deter them from the commission of their contemplated wickedness; and that in fact they not unfrequently do it.
What shall hinder us from supposing that God intends that the workings of the mind when the senses are locked in repose, shall be the means of alarming the guilty, and of leading them to reflection? Why should not mind thus be its own admonisher, and be made the instrument of restraining the guilty then, as really as by its sober reasonings and reflections when awake? Many a wicked man has been checked in a career of wickedness by a frightful dream; and not a few have been brought to a degree of reflection which has resulted in sound conversion by the alarm caused on the mind by having the consequences of a career of wickedness traced out in the visions of the night. The case of Colonel Gardiner cannot be forgotten - though in that instance it was rather "a vision of the night" than a dream. He was meditating an act of wickedness. and was alone in his room awaiting the appointed hour. In the silence of the night, and in the solitude of his room, he seemed to see the Savior on the cross. This view, however, it may be accounted for, restrained him from the contemplated act of wickedness, and he became an eminently pious man; see Doddridge's Life of Colossians. Gardiner. The mind, with all its faculties, is under the control of God, and no one can demonstrate that he does not make its actings, even in the wanderings of a dream, the designed means of checking the sinner, and of saving the soul.
And hide pride from man - Probably the particular thing which Elihu here referred to, was pride and arrogance toward God; or an insolent bearing toward him, and a reliance on one's own merits. This was the particular thing in Job which Elihu seems to have thought required animadversion, and probably he meant to intimate that all people had such communications from God by dreams as to save them from such arrogance.
That he may withdraw man [from his] purpose, and hide (i) pride from man.
(i) He shows for why God sends afflictions: to beat down man's pride, and to turn from evil.
That he may withdraw a man from his purpose,.... Or "work" (m), his wicked work, as the Targum; either which he has begun upon, or which he designed to do. Thus Abimelech and Laban were restrained from their intentions by a divine admonition in a dream, the one from taking Abraham's wife, as he intended, and the other from doing harm to Jacob, which he designed:
and hide pride from man; by pardoning his sins, in which there is always pride, so some; pardon of sin being expressed by covering it, Psalm 32:1; or rather by repressing, weakening, and preventing it; and that by not suffering vain and proud men to perform their enterprises, but obliging them to submit to the will of God, and humble themselves under his mighty hand. These are the ends proposed, and which are effected through the Lord speaking to men in dreams, opening their ears, and sending instructions to them; and others also for their good follow.
(m) "opere", Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, &c.
purpose--Margin, "work." So Job 36:9. So "business" in a bad sense (1-Samuel 20:19). Elihu alludes to Job's words (Job 17:11). "Pride," an open "pit" (Job 33:18) which God hides or covers up, lest man should fall into it. Even the godly need to learn the lesson which trials teach, to "humble themselves under the mighty hand of God."
Pride - And God by this means is said to hide pride from man, because by these glorious representations of his Divine majesty to man, he takes him off from the admiration of his own excellency, and brings him to a sight of his own weakness, and to an humble and ready submission to his will.
*More commentary available at chapter level.