Job 31:1 COMMENTARY
|These notes deal primarily with Job 31:1 which is given below in several different translations.
The English of the Lxx reads something like - I (myself - middle voice) made a covenant with my eyes that I will absolutely not (Greek uses "ou" not "me" the latter being less definite negation) understand
A glance is unavoidable.
HOW THEN COULD I GAZE AT A WOMAN: "Gaze" is the Hebrew word biyn (in the hithpolel or reflexive perfect) and signifies to consider carefully, diligently consider, discern, get understanding, look carefully, observe, paid close attention, pay heed. Show oneself attentive, consider diligently:
Do you get the picture that Job is trying to convey? He's not talking about a casual glance (cp Achan's look which turned to lust which ultimately cost him his life in Joshua 7:21ff) or an accidental viewing of a sensual woman (that would be virtually impossible in America… but it is possible to make certain provisions, enabled by the Spirit Ro 8:13-note and such provisions include not going to PG-13 movies or even PG ratings… they have all become too sensual as the moral compass of Americans, especially the media moguls goes due south, heading straight toward the abyss. We can chose not to watch talk shows that bring up "lusty" subjects so commonly these days. So Job is saying don't stare at her because if you do Jesus says you've already committed adultery in your heart! Mt 5:28-note… Pluck out your eye (do whatever you need to do is the idea) before you do this! That is how enslaving this sin can be… it requires radical surgery and complete extirpation! Don't just biopsy it! Cut it out completely!. (cp Col 3:5-note, Pr 5:22-note; note) The combination of these words, "discern between" is used in 1Ki 3:9, "That I may discern between good and evil." The Hebrew word biyn includes the concept of distinguishing that leads to understanding. The verb refers to knowledge which is superior to the mere gathering of data.
KJV Bible Commentary - Covenant with mine eyes conveys the truth that lustful acts are preceded by lustful looks and thoughts. Job determined in his heart to exercise the will power necessary not to think lustful thoughts about young maidens. He disciplined himself not to take the second look that leads to lust. The verb used here does not mean to “glance briefly,” but rather to “gaze, stare or look intently.”
Jamieson - think (KJV)—rather, “cast a (lustful) look.” He not merely did not so, but put it out of the question by covenanting with his eyes against leading him into temptation (Pr 6:25; Mt 5:28).
New Living Translation Study Bible - Perhaps lust of the eyes was at the head of Job’s list because the eye is the first instrument of sin (Gen 3:6). • To look with lust at a young woman violates the spirit of the seventh (Deut 5:18, see Matt 5:27–28), and potentially the tenth (Deut 5:21), commandment.
Gary Everett - Job made a quality decision in his heart before he encountered temptation that he would not gaze and stare upon a woman. A man cannot stop himself from seeing things and people. But a person can make a decision not to focus his attention upon it. A person can turn his eyes away from temptation and focus his thoughts upon something else. This is the decision that Job made. Note that Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that gazing upon a woman will turn our hearts towards adulterous thoughts (Matt 5:27–28). This is what Job was avoiding. It is through the sense gate of the eyes that our minds receive information. What ever we focus our eyes upon, our mind gives it attention and processes what is seen. Thus, the first step in sin would be to focus our eyes upon something immoral. The second step in sin is to think about what is being seen. Job made the decision to stop this process at its inception. (Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures)
Mark it down dear reader - When the wrong images are allowed in through the eyes, it will not be long until they find their way to the heart. It will not be long from there until you find yourself tempted and falling into sin. That is why we must guard our eyes at all times. Live, therefore, Coram Deo (as before the face of God) and await the benediction of God upon your life and words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.”
Jon Courson - Job begins by declaring he has not been guilty of lust. “I will put no unclean thing before my eyes,” the psalmist declares (see Ps 101:3). Here, we learn that Job said the same thing.
Reformation Study Bible - Job explains that he determined not to sin with his eyes (1 John 2:16). He may be speaking of more than ordinary lust, that is of the worship of the fertility goddesses so popular in Old Testament times. The word translated “virgin” (v. 1) is used of the goddess of fertility in Canaanite writings. She was a kind of Venus and was called the “maiden Anat” in Ugarit.
John Hartley - Job begins his oath of innocence with an affirmation. He states that he had made a covenant with his eyes that he would never look longingly after a maiden or a virgin (bətulah). He has resolutely controlled his eyes to keep any sinful longing from entering his heart. In the OT the eyes were considered the gateway to the heart, for their gaze may arouse the deepest desires and so spur their owner to transgress God’s laws (e.g., Ge 3:6; 2Sa 11:2; cf. Sir. 9:8; Mt 5:28). The people were, therefore, enjoined to remember God’s commandments and not prostitute themselves by following the lusts of their hearts and eyes (Nu 15:39). Job’s concern with the potential hazard in a lustful gaze points toward the standard set by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount: whoever looks lustfully on a woman sins (Mt 5:28). But as Driver-Gray observe, Job differs from Jesus, for he does not consider the gaze a sinful act but acknowledges that it is liable to result in wrongdoing. (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament)
Albert Barnes - Upon a virgin—על־בתולה; comp. Pr. 6:25, “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids;” see, also, the fearful and solemn declaration of the Saviour in Mt. 5:28. There is much emphasis in the expression used here by Job. He does not merely say that he had not thought in that manner, but that the thing was morally impossible that he should have done it. Any charge of that kind, or any suspicion of it, he would repel with indignation. His purpose to lead a pure life, and to keep a pure heart, had been so settled, that it was impossible that he could have offended in that respect. His purpose, also, not to think on this subject, showed the extent of the restriction imposed on himself. It was not merely his intention to lead a chaste life, and to avoid open sin, but it was to maintain a pure heart, and not to suffer the mind to become corrupted by dwelling on impure images, or indulging in unholy desires. This strongly shows Job’s piety and purity of heart, and is a beautiful illustration of patriarchal religion. We may remark here, that if a Man wishes to maintain purity of life, he must make just such a covenant as this with himself—one so sacred, so solemn, So firm, that he will not suffer his mind for a moment to harbor an improper thought. “The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it;” and the out breaking crimes of life are just the result of allowing the imagination to dwell on impure images. As the eye is the great source of danger (comp. Mt. 5:28; 2 Peter 2:14), there should be a solemn purpose that that should be pure, and that any sacrifice should be made rather than allow indulgence to a wanton gaze: comp. Mark 9:47. No Man was ever too much guarded on this subject; no one ever yet made too solemn a covenant with his eyes, and with his whole soul to be chaste.
George Barton - (Lusting with one's eyes is) a very prevalent sin—especially prevalent with the owner of large numbers of slaves.
Robert Alden - As in all the Old Testament’s references to making “a covenant,” the expression is “cut a covenant,” alluding either to inscribing such solemn words on stone or to the cutting of a sacrificial animal to accompany the ceremony (Gen 15:10, 18). The second stich is grammatically a question, “How could I look at a girl [bĕtûlâ, “virgin”]?” The effect, however, is that of a negative sentence. Why is this one sin at the head of this chapter? Some would move it closer to Job 31:9, which addresses adultery. Some say it is such a cardinal sin and avoidance of it bespeaks such a high level of purity that it comes first and ties in with God, who “sees my ways” (Job 31:4). Others suggest that “virgin” refers to Venus or Anat, the virgin consort of Baal, and by this means Job swore that he would not so much as look at an idol (cf. Job 31:26–28). Still others emend the text to read “folly.” The NIV has added “lustfully” to the translation of the verb “look,” which I wished to translate in Job 30:20 as “scrutinize/ examine.” The subject matter brings to mind Jesus’ warning in Mt 5:28, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Ben Sira had similar advice, “Entertain no thoughts against a virgin, lest you be enmeshed in damages for her” (Sir 9:5, NAB). If such temptations existed in biblical times, how much more should Christians today heed these warnings and emulate Job (The New American Commentary - Job)
Robert Hawker - Job 31 deserves our attention the more, because, though Job takes no pride in what he here saith, in the justification of himself, yet in those secret sins, which are known only to the Lord, on numberless occasions of evil, the Patriarch pleads not guilty; and which therefore serves to confirm the divine testimony which the Lord gave concerning his servant, in the opening of the book itself, that there was none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Job 2:3. There is a great beauty in Job’s expression in this verse, of having made a covenant with his eyes, to preserve, under grace, the chastity of the mind and body. By the eye, the lust of the flesh is frequently excited: and our adored Redeemer hath set it down as uncleanness and adultery already committed, if a man so looks on a woman as to lust after her. Matt. 5:28. There may be many causes, in the difficulty of attainment, or the shame and punishment which might attend the gratification of unlawful passions, which restrain the actual commission of the sin; but nothing but the grace of God can preserve the chastity of the mind from so much as wishing it, or thinking upon it. Joseph’s views of this subject was similar to Job’s, that wickedness is against God. Gen. 39:9. Reader, though I have made this long note upon this verse, yet it is so very important, that I venture to make it a little longer, and to observe, that since from the corruption of our poor fallen nature, evil thoughts, and the whole train of the imaginations of the heart arise, how infinitely precious ought it to be to us, to eye the grace of Jesus as our preservative against this, and every evil; and, conscious of the uncleanness within, to keep the heart with all diligence, and to beg of God to keep it for us, since out of it are the issues of life. Pr. 4:23. (Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary, Vol. 4: Job–Psalms)
Adrian Rogers - The Principle of Determination - Now that's the first step. It's the principle of purification. Get totally clean. That's verse 9. Now, let's look at verse 10. And here's the next principle. Not only the principle of purification, but principle number two, the principle of determination. Determine to stay clean. Look in verse ten. "With my whole heart have I sought Thee." With my whole heart—"… my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not stray from Thy commandments." Some are going down tonight. Some will never have victory. And the reason you will not have victory is you are half-hearted rather then whole-hearted. No one, no one, no one has ever won a moral victory half-heartedly. Let me give you some Scriptures to add to this. Deuteronomy 4:29, God says, "But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul." Have you ever sought God with all of your heart? James 4:8, "Draw nigh to God and God will draw nigh unto you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners and purify your heart ye double-minded." "A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways," James 1:8. Daniel 1:8, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself." Have you purposed in your heart that you would not defile yourself? Job said in Job 31:1, "I made a covenant with my eyes that I would not look upon a maid." And the Hebrew idea is that I will not lust after a woman. I made a covenant with my eyes. Question: have you done that? Have you said, O my God, with all of my heart I determine to be pure. I'm telling you, if you don't say that and mean it in today's society you are going down without that determination. God does business with those that mean business. Now after you do this, it doesn't mean the battle is over. But it will never be enjoined until you go in with all of your heart. You get perfectly clean. And then you say by God's grace I will stay clean. Years ago I read how people would hunt for a little animal that they made fur coats out of, an ermine. This particular ermine had a coat of snow white. These kinds of animals. What they would do, they would find the hole where the ermine would run in to hide. And they would take and smear filth around the hole. Something vile, something dirty, something defiling. And then the dogs would hunt the ermine and the ermine would run as fast as he could to the hole to get away. But when it would see that filth and, realize it would have to defile its coat of snow white to go into that hole, the ermine, rather than defile itself would turn around and face the dogs. And would give its life, give its life rather than defile itself. Does purity mean that much to you? If not, you're going to go down. You are half-hearted. And if you're half-hearted, you're not going to make it. The principle of purification, you get totally clean. The principle of determination, you determine to stay clean. I tell you again, God does business with those that mean business. I went to the marriage altar a virgin. I married a virgin. I'm glad I did. I knew the temptations that every young man knows. In college, I kept a motto on my desk and it said this, "He who would not fall down ought not to walk in slippery places." Determination. Determination. Purification. Determination. (Sermon on Ps 119:9-16 = "Guard Your Heart")
Apologetics Study Bible - Some critics attempt to link the “young woman” that Job mentioned with either the Ugaritic virgin Anat or the Mesopotamian Ishtar, thus suggesting the worship of fertility goddesses. But this is unfounded. The standard warnings against the lust of the eyes are sufficient to explain the verse without resorting to deeper meanings gleaned from supposed pagan precedents.
David Jeremiah - Following the advice of Job 31:1 (make a covenant with your eyes), Proverbs 4:23 (keep your heart pure with all diligence), and Proverbs 6:25 (do not lust after the beauty of another) is a good way to guard your heart. And being forewarned is to be forearmed. The sign of the house of adultery that says, “Nothing to pay” is only true for getting in the door. But to get out, you will have to leave all you have and all you are. Resolve today to guard your heart with all diligence. (Powerful principles from proverbs: Study guide)
Terry Muck - G. K. Chesterton once likened this world to the desert island site of a shipwreck. A sailor awakes from a deep sleep and discovers treasure strewn about, relics from a civilization he can barely remember. One by one he picks up the relics—gold coins, a compass, fine clothing—and tries to discern their meaning. According to Chesterton, fallen humanity is in such a state. Good things on earth still bear traces of their original purpose, but each is also subject to misinterpretation or abuse because of fallen, “amnesiac” human nature. Evil is a kind of subverted echo of goodness and spirituality. Power, a wonderful human gift, can be used for great good or can through violence be used to dominate others. Wealth may lead to charity or to exploitation; delicious food may inspire gratitude or gluttony. Sexual desire, one of the most powerful “relics” we find on this earth, invites obsession. When we experience sexual desires, it seems only right to follow where they lead. As the modern song puts it, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right.” (Sins of the body: ministry in a sexual society)
Wycliffe Bible Commentary: Old Testament - Protestation of innocence has been Job’s main burden all along. Here, elaborately formulated, it becomes the climax of his peroration. In form, this is a retroactive oath of covenant allegiance (cf. v. 1a). In such oaths the speaker called down curses upon his own head for proved violations of the moral code (cf., e.g., the Hittite Soldiers’ Oath, ANET, 353, 354). Even the imagery of the extant samples of such ancient oaths corresponds with Job’s (e.g., loss of crops, grinding, breaking of limbs, thistles. See Job 31:8, 10, 22, 40). The picture, therefore, is that of the covenant vassal protesting his faithfulness to the various stipulations laid upon him, dumbfounded that his sovereign has visited him with the curses rather than the blessings of the covenant (cf. Deut 28:18, 31, 35). God seems to Job to have forsaken the suzerain’s role as protector, and strangely turned enemy against an obedient vassal. Job 31:1-8. Job begins by disclaiming private sins of the heart—lust (Job 31:1), vain deceit (Job 31:5), covetousness (Job 31:7).
Job wisely recognized that the eye is the main avenue for temptation (see Job 31:7, 9, 26, 27).
He who would not fall down
Job deliberately refused to allow any thoughts of lust to enter his mind when he chanced to see an attractive young woman. Dearly beloved, be careful here. Don't try to do this in your own strength or power! That is tantamount to placing a heavy burden on your back! Another word is legalism. "If I just try harder." "If I do this or do that or don't do this or don't do that!" Notice the little pronoun "I"! Yes, we ultimately have to make the choice to turn our eyes, but we can only do so in the liberty and freedom provided by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer (Ro 8:13-note). The Spirit is in us, continually giving us the "desire" (the will) and the power to walk in a manner pleasing to our Father. See Php 2:12-note = our responsibility and Php 2:13-note = the Spirit's provision - in Php 2:12 we "work out what God has worked in." It is not just "Let go and let God." That is misleading and will end in failure.
Adrian Rogers writes making his covenant is "One big decision - wholehearted - will make an incredible difference. Do you have such a wholehearted desire for purity? God does business with those that mean business."
Job comes from the dawn of civilization, and yet Job in the world of his day knows that in order to keep clean (holy) before God he has to be careful about what he sees (cp 2Cor 7:1). He makes a covenant with his eyes. In order to properly handle his sexual drives. He has to watch his thought life, and he goes on to tell us he realizes that if he does not, "Calamity will befall the unrighteous, and disaster the workers of iniquity." (Job 31:3)
Kent Hughes - You may not be able to avoid the first look, but you can avoid the second. Develop the discipline of never taking that second look. Women will know if you do. They know where your eyes go. Develop modest eyes.
Jerry Bridges - We need not only a commitment to holiness as a total way of life, but frequently a commitment regarding specific areas of temptation. Job made a personal covenant not to look lustfully at young women (Job 31:1). Daniel resolved not to defile himself with forbidden food, even though from the king’s table (Da 1:8). These two Old Testament saints are commended by God Himself as among the most righteous who ever lived (Ezekiel 14:14); yet both found it necessary to make a commitment regarding some specific area of temptation. Job found his temptation in his own breast; Daniel found his in his particular circumstances. Both responded with a commitment to obey God. They lived up to their convictions. A lustful look quickly becomes an impure thought. If acts of immorality are becoming a problem among Christians, the thoughts of immorality are a much greater problem. Sexual lust lies latent in the heart of every Christian. Even righteous Job found it necessary to deal decisively with this temptation; he made a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully at a girl (Job 31:1). If Job found it necessary to make this kind of commitment in the day in which he lived, how much more do we need it in today’s society—where sexual lust is exploited even to advertise spark plugs! Job was acknowledged by God Himself as a man who was “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Yet Job found it helpful to single out this specific area of temptation and make a commitment regarding it!
Matthew Henry - 1. What the resolutions were which, in this matter, he kept to (Job 31:1): I made a covenant with my eyes, that is, "I watched against the occasions of the sin; why then should I think upon a maid?'' that is, "by that means, through the grace of God, I kept myself from the very first step towards it.'' So far was he from wanton dalliances, or any act of lasciviousness, that, (1.) He would not so much as admit a wanton look. He made a covenant with his eyes, made this bargain with them, that he would allow them the pleasure of beholding the light of the sun and the glory of God shining in the visible creation, provided they would never fasten upon any object that might occasion any impure imaginations, much less any impure desires, in his mind; and under this penalty, that, if they did, they must smart for it in penitential tears. Note, Those that would keep their hearts pure must guard their eyes, which are both the outlets and inlets of uncleanness. Hence we read of wanton eyes (Isa. 3:16) and eyes full of adultery, 2Pe 2:14. The first sin began in the eye, Ge 3:6. What we must not meddle with we must not lust after; and what we must not lust after we must not look at; not the forbidden wealth (Pr. 23:5), not the forbidden wine (Pr 23:31), not the forbidden woman, Mt. 5:28. (2.) He would not so much as allow a wanton thought: "Why then should I think upon a maid with any unchaste fancy or desire towards her?'' Shame and sense of honour might restrain him from soliciting the chastity of a beautiful virgin, but only grace and the fear of God would restrain him from so much as thinking of it. Those are not chaste that are not so in spirit as well as body, 1 Co. 7:34. See how Christ's exposition of the seventh commandment agrees with the ancient sense of it, and how much better Job understood it than the Pharisees, though they sat in Moses' chair.
June Hunt - God would never tell you to stop lusting without giving you the power to stop. The starting point for victory is realizing that when a sexual thought flashes into your mind, you must redirect that thought or replace it. Years ago, Martin Luther painted a graphic picture with words to this effect, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.” You are the only one who controls how long you will entertain a thought—how long you will dwell on it. Make a commitment—a covenant with your eyes—that you will not maintain a gaze that leads to an immoral thought. And make a covenant with your mind that you will not allow an immoral thought to reside in your heart. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you should have determined ahead of time how you would respond? Yet in the heat of the moment, you acted and later realized with regret that you had made the wrong decision? Many of your decisions need to be made prior to when they are needed. This involves knowing the end result you desire and then committing yourself to a plan to achieve that desire. In the Bible, Job had such a plan in order to maintain his purity. (Biblical Counseling Keys on Sexual Addiction: The Way Out of the Web)
Matthew Poole on Job 31:1 - So far have I been from wallowing in the mire of uncleanness, or any gross wickedness, wherewith you charge me, that I have abstained even from the least occasions and appearances of evil, having made a solemn resolution within myself, and a solemn covenant and promise to God, that I would not wantonly or lustfully fix mine eyes or gaze upon a maid, lest mine eyes should affect my heart, and stir me up to further filthiness. Hereby we plainly see that that command of Christ. Mat 5:29, was no new command peculiar to the gospel, as some would have it, but the very same which the law of God revealed in his word, and written in men’s hearts by nature, imposed upon men in the times of the Old Testament. See also 2Pe 2:14 1Jo 2:16. Should I think upon, i.e. indulge myself in filthy and lustful thoughts? Seeing I was obliged, and accordingly took care, to guard mine eyes, I was upon the same reason obliged to restrain my imagination. Or, why then should I consider, or contemplate, or look curiously, or thoughtfully, or diligently? Since I had made such a covenant, why should I not keep it? A maid; which is emphatically added, to show that that circumstance which provokes the lust of others had no such power over him, and that he restrained himself from the very thoughts and desires of filthiness with such persons, wherewith the generality of men allowed themselves to commit gross fornication, as deeming it to be either none, or but a very little sin. Withal he insinuates with how much more caution he kept himself from uncleanness with any married person.
The eyes are so powerful that the Job had to pray; pray for power outside himself (the Holy Spirit) to turn his eyes from worthless things (as did the Psalmist - Ps 101:3). Does Job have no eyelids? No muscles in his neck to turn the head? Yet all of us (especially us men) sympathize with this covenant -- Our eyes are so small – yet they can lead the whole person, and this in turn often leads to destruction. Why? Because the eyes lead the heart and the mind, and these in turn lead the whole person. Job vowed to make a covenant prayed this, “Lest looking cause liking and lusting.” (Trapp)
Trapp adds that "When one seemed to pity a one-eyed man, he told him he had lost one of his enemies, a very thief, that would have stolen away his heart.”
John Butler - Good Vision - “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid.” (Job 31:1) JOB is telling his three friends about a special covenant which he had made. From this verse we note the sanctity in the covenant, the sight in the covenant, the seriousness of the covenant, and the strength from the covenant.
Sanctity in the covenant. “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid.” This covenant was to keep Job pure morally. Such a covenant is so commendable. Men often set goals for their life, but few of the goals ever involve moral purity. Some set goals for making money or for some sports achievement. Job’s goal, as stated in his covenant, was to be pure morally.
Sight in the covenant. “With mine eyes.” Job recognized that the eye gate is where the great portion of sin enters our life. We seem to have forgotten that fact, for few people do much to keep their eyes from beholding the unsanctified. TV and videos are greatly polluting people through the eye gate. Hollywood pollutes through the eye gate. And the check-out counters of many stores have their dirty magazines all lined up to pollute their customers through the eye gate. Guard your eyes. More evil enters your life through your eye gate than any other gate.
Seriousness of the covenant. “I made a covenant.” Making a covenant is serious business. It shows the dedication of Job to be pure. If you do not get earnest about purity, you will not succeed in being pure. So many folk never take seriously this matter of living holy. Evil is earnest; and if we are going to defeat evil, we will have to be earnest in opposing it.
Strength from the covenant. “Why then should I think upon a maid?” The thought in this last sentence in the verse is that the covenant gives strength to overcome temptation. And we need strength to overcome this temptation, for it is a very strong temptation. Do all that you can to protect yourself from being seduced by temptation to be immoral. We can never be too strong for this matter of temptation to immorality. Keep yourself strong spirituality or sin will overcome you.
J. Simmons - Keep a strict watch over your eyes at all times, especially when you are in duty. The eyes are the portholes that sin and Satan creep in at. It is accounted a great piece of charity to a man’s body to close his eyes when he is dead: I am sure it is more charity to our souls to close our own eyes whilst we are living (Job 31:1).
“CHRISTIAN. Well, neighbour Faithful, tell me now, what have you met with in the way as you came; for I know you have met with some things, or else it may be writ for a wonder.
“FAITHFUL. I escaped the Slough that I perceived you fell into, and got up to the gate without that danger; only I met with one whose name was Wanton, who had like to have done me a mischief.
“CHR. It was well you escaped her net; Joseph was hard put to it by her, and he escaped her as you did; but it had like to have cost him his life. But what did she do to you?
“FAITH. You cannot think, but that you know something, what a flattering tongue she had; she lay at me hard to turn aside with her, promising me all manner of content.
“CHR. Nay, she did not promise you the content of a good conscience.
“FAITH. You know what I mean; all carnal and fleshly content.
“CHR. Thank God you have escaped her: ‘The abhorred of the Lord shall fall into her ditch.’ (Prov. 22:14.)
“FAITH. Nay, I know not whether I did wholly escape her or no.
“CHR. Why, I trow you did not consent to her desires.
“FAITH. No, not to defile myself; for I remembered an old writing that I had seen, which said, ‘Her steps take hold on hell.’ (Prov. 5:5.) So I shut mine eyes, because I would not be bewitched with her looks. (Job 31:1.) Then she railed on me, and I went my way.”
BILLY GRAHAM'S SECRETARY SAYS - I have always appreciated, from a moral point of view, how the men have been in their attitude toward the secretaries. The doors are always left open. There is a high regard for the lack of any kind of privacy where a boss and his secretary are involved. At times, I thought they were going a little too far, that it wasn't necessary, but I'm glad they did it, especially today. They have kept everything above reproach. When you are working on a long-term basis with the same person, constantly, in hotels, where the wife is not there and the secretary is, that is a highly explosive situation. You have to take precautions. I have always respected the way they have handled that. It has been beautifully done. --- Millie Dienert has worked with the Billy Graham team for forty years. Her comments on the ethics of Mr. Graham, Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, and the rest of the male members of the team make the point.
John Newton - Great reason we have to make David’s prayer (Psalm 119:17) and with Job to make a covenant with our eyes [Job 31:1], for they are the inlet of many temptations. In many countries there are still pleasant trees that bear poisonous fruit.
Joseph Caryl - The eye is apt to make a stand, or fix itself, when we come in view of an ensnaring object; therefore it is our duty to hasten it away, or to pray that God would make it pass off from it… He that feareth burning must take heed of playing with fire: he that feareth drowning must keep out of deep waters. He that feareth the plague must not go into an infected house. Would they avoid sin who present themselves to the opportunities of it?
Alexander Maclaren: It is far easier to cut off the hand, which after all is not me, than to sacrifice passions and desires which, though they be my worst self, are myself.
Kent Hughes - Of course, this great principle of mortification has universal application to all areas of life, but here Jesus specifically applies it to sensuality. So we will do the same. If the application seems negative, so be it, for the ultimate result is positive. Jesus tells us there must be a mortification of the eyes, that we must control our eyes. This advice may be more needful for men than women because they are more apt to be visually stimulated, but it does apply to both. In simplest terms, this forbids a second look. At the risk of sounding super-pious and goody-goody, I have tried to make this one of the canons of my own life. A godly man (one who is trying to be so) must not take a second look. When talking with the opposite sex, one should always maintain eye contact. Wandering eyes are sensual eyes and ultimately adulterous eyes. Job’s reflections in chapter 31 of his book contain lifesaving wisdom (Job 31:1) A wise man or woman will make a covenant with his or her eyes as to what they will look upon. Certainly this involves television and movies. There is probably no area in which Christians fail more than in what they allow to enter their minds through the media. There are times when we need to walk away from the screen. There are times to turn the dial. We are easily desensitized, and those impure things at which we laugh do not seem so bad the next time, and the last laugh will be on us. Certainly this also applies to books, magazines, and newspapers. We need to make a covenant with our eyes. We need to take extreme measures if necessary. Am I suggesting a new legalism with a list of yeses and nos? In no way! Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin …” Not anyone else’s eye, but your eye. We are all different. We stumble over different things. One thing may arouse one and leave another unmoved. One must cut something out, but another may be under no such obligation… we must recognize the absolute necessity of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We cannot mortify our flesh alone. Willpower will not do it! Paul is careful to tell us, “but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Likewise, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you” (Philippians 2:12, 13). We can do this only by the power of Jesus. We live in an age of extreme sensuality. Many say (and I think they are right) that never in the history of the western world, since the time of Greek and Roman paganism, has the state of marriage and sexual morality been so low. And even more tragic, immorality has invaded the church at every level, from teenage to mid-life, so that no age group is untouched. Moreover, the havoc this has wrought goes far beyond the relational horrors of divorce, illegitimacy, and abortion to the very perversion of faith. I know of one former church leader and theologian who after continuous adultery and finally dissolution of his marriage began to discard the essentials of his Christian faith. Why? When one’s willful conduct contradicts one’s theology, either the conduct or the theology must change. We must understand that much of the heresy we observe today has roots that are moral rather than intellectual. Therefore we must realize that what people do with their eyes and limbs can affect the eternal destiny of their souls. (The sermon on the mount: the message of the kingdom)
Rob Morgan - Be Careful What You See (cf 2Sa 11:1–5). David’s sin began with simple sight. He rose one night, walked on the rooftop, and looked on the houses below. On the south side of Jerusalem is the little village of Silwan, with houses built one on top of another, directly across the valley from where David’s city was located. There David saw Bathsheba. Had he not seen her bathing, he would not have committed this sin. It’s true that David didn’t go out looking for Bathsheba. He accidentally saw her. But sometimes accidents happen on purpose, don’t they, like in a motel room, flipping through the channels on television? You need to be careful what you see (see Job 31:1). Long before the advent of television, philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote: “Suppose someone invented an instrument, a convenient little talking tube which, say, could be heard all over the whole land. I wonder if the police would not forbid it, fearing that the whole country would become mentally deranged if it were used.” Kierkegaard’s words have come true. David Frost, who made his living on television, said, “Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.” Many movies and TV programs aren’t fit for human consumption, let alone for a Christian. We must be careful what we see. (Nelson’s annual preacher’s sourcebook - 2004)
Kent Hughes comments - Proverbs 6:27 says, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” Many Christians are daily heaping fire onto themselves and are being profoundly scarred. We need to be like Job, who said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1). We need to apply this across the board. There are books and magazines we must discard. Some of us need to toss out TVs. I am not endorsing any type of legalism, but God’s Word speaks today, and we are to kill the members of our body which lead us into sensuality or promote covetousness, which our text calls “greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians and Philemon: the supremacy of Christ)
Kent Hughes - Men and young men, guard your eyes and your hearts. Job’s wisdom will stand you well: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). You may not be able to avoid the first look, but you can avoid the second. Develop the discipline of never taking that second look. Women will know if you do. They know where your eyes go. Develop modest eyes. The culture of modesty—the culture of respect. Holy eyes and holy hearts. These are the souls that God is pleased to use to spread the Good News… We are called as a church to create a culture that nurtures purity. We must carefully guard our hearts. Here is Job’s wisdom: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). (Set apart: calling a worldly church to a godly life)
John Armstrong - I urge pastors to consider an ‘eye covenant’ (Job 31:1) to protect themselves from sexual impurity (Ed: I agree with Armstrong, but submit that this covenant MUST be enabled by the Spirit and sustained by the Spirit - cp Ro 8:13. Making a covenant in our own strength is tantamount to placing one's self up under the law and simply cannot be kept! cp John 6:63).. Keep your eyes from wandering to images and even to dwelling on passing women that can entice you with fantasies. As Alcorn notes, ‘A battering ram may hit a fortress a thousand times, and no one time seems to have an effect, yet finally the gate caves in.’ For most men, our thoughts are readily influenced by images, for we are visually oriented. When our thoughts are assailed visually time after time, we are more vulnerable, for ‘immorality is the cumulative product of small mental indulgences and minuscule compromises, the immediate consequences of which were, at the time, indiscernible,’ according to Alcorn. ‘Our thoughts are the fabric with which we weave our character and destiny.’ (The Stain that Stays: The Church's Response to Sexual Misconduct of Its Leaders)
The thoughts of our heart are the real litmus test of our character
John MacArthur - Avoid evil attractions. Don’t expose yourself to activities, images, or conversation that provoke evil thoughts. Like Job, make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1)—or with your ears, or with whatever sensations lead you into evil thoughts. Refuse to feed any tendencies that draw your imagination into wickedness. An awareness of God’s presence will help you not only flee from sin, but also endure suffering.
Warren Wiersbe on Job 31 - This chapter helps you take inventory of your spiritual life. Do you have eyes that wander lustfully (Job 31:1–4) or feet that move deceitfully (Job 31:5–8)? Has lust been fulfilled in overt sin (Job 31:9–12)? Have you treated others as God wants them treated (Job 31:13–23)? Have you coveted wealth or been proud of what you possess (Job 31:24–28)? How do you respond to the suffering of an enemy (Job 31:29–30) or the needs of a stranger (Job 31:31–34)? Are you a faithful steward of the natural resources God gives (Job 31:38–40)? Job has seen himself and is satisfied, but he has not yet seen God. When he does, he will change his opinion of himself and get started on the road to victory. Lust is the first step toward sin, and sin is the first step toward death (James 1:13–16). It is one thing to see and admire an attractive person, but it is quite something else to look for the purpose of lusting in the heart. Jesus said, “Everyone who is looking at a woman in order to indulge his sexual passion for her, already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28, WUEST). While sin in the heart is not as destructive as sin actually committed, it is the first step toward the act; and you never know where a polluted imagination will lead you. Furthermore, God above looks down and sees both our actions and “the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12–13); and He will judge both. “Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong?” (Job 31:3, NIV) During more than forty years of ministry, I’ve listened to many sad stories from people who have indulged in sexual sin and suffered greatly; in almost every instance, the people deliberately put themselves into the place of temptation and danger. Unlike Job, they didn’t make “a covenant with [their] eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1, NIV), nor did they follow the example of Joseph and flee from temptation (Gen. 39:7ff; 2 Tim. 2:22). We can’t help being tempted, but we can certainly help tempting ourselves.
The marriage covenant is not to be broken and the thought or act which breaks it is sexual immorality. (cp Heb 13:4-note; Job 31:9 =“If my heart has been enticed by a woman, Or I have lurked at my neighbor’s doorway 10 May my wife grind for another, And let others kneel down over her.).
Job openly acknowledged the power of sexual appetites. He catalogued the steps of lust from “looking upon a virgin” (Job 31:1), to allowing one’s heart to follow one’s eyes (Job 31:7), to finally allowing oneself to be enticed by a woman and then scheming to have her (Job 31:9). Some may see this progression as normal, natural, or unavoidable. But Job viewed lust as a serious moral failure (Job 31:11). (Word in life study Bible)
"Great Alexander called the Persian maids" oculorum dolores (eye pain). (John Trapp)
Job focuses on his eyes, because they let in the objects of lust into the heart (Mt 5:28, Joshua 7:21), and because the signs of lust in the heart appear especially in the eyes (Ge 39:7 Pr 6:25).
Steven Cole - To be morally pure, you’ve got to commit yourself to God’s standard and fight to maintain it. To fight for purity, you must guard your thought life and restrict the kinds of media that you expose yourself to. You must be accountable in your use of the computer. Guys, you must make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1), so that you stop checking out every attractive girl who walks by. It is a battle and it won’t happen automatically. You must actively fight against it. Cut off your hand! Pluck out your eye if you need to (Matt. 5:27-30)! If you want to obey God and win the war against lust, you must make a prior commitment to guard what you look at. That means that certain magazines, TV shows, and movies must be off limits. It means that when you come across seductive pictures of women, you must turn the page quickly without scrutinizing the details. It means that you must break the habit of checking out the nice looking women. I’m not saying you don’t notice them (that is impossible); I am saying you don’t gaze at their finer points. Thus, there is a difference between temptation and lust. Men are aroused primarily by sight. If you do not flee, you will fall. If you linger, you will lust. The Bible never says that you should stand and fight sexual passion. It never says to stay and pray about it.
If you linger,
Hippolytus wrote "He who looks upon a woman, even though he escape the temptation, does not come away pure of all lust. And why should one have trouble, if he can be chaste and free of trouble? See what Job says: ‘I made a covenant with mine eyes, that I should not think of another’s wife.’ Thus well does he know the power of abuse. And Paul for this reason kept ‘under his body, and brought it into subjection’ 1Co 9:27-note”
Some cross references to ponder as you meditate on Job 31:1…
Ge 6:1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 THEN the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."
2 Sa 11:1 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem (Note: David has no one to whom he is accountable and secondly is not doing what he should be doing which would have kept him out of harm's way!). 2 Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"4 And David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, "I am pregnant."
Psalm 119:37-note Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Thy ways.
Pr 4:25-note Let your eyes look directly ahead, And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
Pr 6:25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her catch you with her eyelids. James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Eccl 2:10 And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor.
Mt 5:28-note but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.29 "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 "And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.
TASSELS: CORDS OF BLUE
In Jehovah's exhortation regarding tassels in Numbers 15, there is a powerful principle that relates to where we focus our eyes, our attention -
HOW TO TRAP AN ERMINE - The ermine is a little animal that is used to make fur coats, because they have a coat that is snow white. Trappers find the ermine's hole (home) knowing he would run there to hide. The hunters would smear something vile, dirty, defiling around the entrance of his hole. As the dogs drove the ermine to his hole to get away, the snow white animal would see the filth and, realize it would have to defile its coat in order to enter his hole. So rather than defile itself, the ermine refused to enter and instead would turn around and face the dogs, in effect giving its life, rather than suffering defilement! Does holiness and moral purity mean that much to you? If not, you are destined to succumb to moral temptation, because you are half-hearted. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, you must determine to remain morally pure, to be holy as He is holy (1Pe 1:14, 15, 16-note) And remember, the Spirit of the Living God does business with those that mean business. Don't get trapped!
I. ITS NATURE. It is a vice opposed to chastity, and may be committed--
II. its greatness as a sin.
III. Its prevention.
HE SEES US! - In this age of electronics, we have all become aware of bugging devices. A person's office, hotel room, or telephone can be monitored so that every sound is picked up. This is accomplished through highly sensitive microphones that are so small they can easily be hidden. Heads of state, government officials, and business people in strategic positions must be exceedingly careful of what they say, especially when entering a strange setting. The awareness that they might be overheard is sure to make them think twice before they speak. Did you ever stop to think that God sees everything we do and hears everything we say every moment of the day? Heb 4:13-note says that "all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." This truth is both comforting and sobering–comforting because God stands ready to deliver us when we are in trouble (Ps 33:18-19-note), and sobering because "the eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good" (Pr 15:3-note). What a profound effect this should have on the way we live! The next time you are tempted or in trouble, remember that God is watching and listening. –R W De Haan
There is no time of day or night,
To know that God sees us
brings both conviction and comfort.
A COVENANT WITH MY EYES - Our friend is a computer “techie.” One night when our family was at his house, I noticed a verse taped to his monitor: “I have made a covenant with my eyes” (Job 31:1). Evidently, he understood the potential danger of spending hours alone in front of a computer with easy access to indecent images.
Our friend’s “reminder verse” is a quote from Job, and it continues, “Why then should I look upon a young woman?” Like many of us, Job had promised himself to stay free of lust. Reflecting on that oath, he said, “Does [God] not see my ways, and count all my steps?” (Job 31:4, cp Pr 15:3-note, 1Pe 1:17-note). The Bible assures us that God does (Heb 4:13-note), and that we are accountable to Him. This is why believers must “abstain from sexual immorality” (1Th. 4:3-note). While some want to debate the boundaries of morality, the Bible says, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28-note).
If you have made a covenant with your eyes, consider how Scripture might help you keep this pledge. Post a verse on your computer screen, television, or the dashboard of your car, and remember, “God did not call us to uncleanness” but to holiness (1Th. 4:7-note). -- February 11, 2012 — by Jennifer Benson Schuldt
When lustful thoughts assail your mind
The cartoon depicted a frustrated father changing a flat tire in the rain. His two children were peering out the car window. In response to their complaining, he said, "Don't you understand? This is life. This is what's happening. We can't switch to another channel!" Television and reality—does the former distort the latter? After 10 years of research, media analyst Kenneth Curtis measured TV's impact on society. He concluded that the omnipresent, flickering screen constantly tries to tell us what behavior and attitudes are desirable. He described the effect of TV as a subtle process that has become a significant force in defining reality. If this is true, we had better be careful about what we watch. The networks are not committed to portraying Christian values. Many things that are presented as acceptable are in fact dangerous. Furthermore, watching TV makes us passive observers rather than active participants in solving life's problems. The violence, sex, and materialism on TV can make us insensitive to our calling as Christians to be salt and light in a sinful world. Only as we meditate on God's Word (Psalm 1:2) can we have the right perspective. To avoid a distorted view of life, we must allow God's truth to define reality. —MRD II
Our thoughts are shaped by what we see,
The Bible is the best TV guide.
ANTHEM: Strategies for Fighting Lust
November 5, 2001
by John Piper
Topic: Sexual Purity
Series: Taste & See Articles
I have in mind men and women. For men it’s obvious. The need for warfare against the bombardment of visual temptation to fixate on sexual images is urgent. For women it is less obvious, but just as great if we broaden the scope of temptation to food or figure or relational fantasies. When I say “lust” I mean the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct. So here is one set of strategies in the war against wrong desires. I put it in the form of an acronym, A N T H E M.
A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say “possible and reasonable” because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say “unfitting desire” because not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. “Avoiding” is a Biblical strategy. “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” (2 Timothy 2:22). “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).
N – Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. “In the name of Jesus, NO!” You don’t have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Strike fast and strike hard. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying “no” will not suffice. You must move from defense to offense. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. The Bible calls lusts “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them “passions of your former ignorance” (1Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter” (Proverbs 7:22). Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge. This is why I wrote Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. We must stock our minds with the superior promises and pleasures of Jesus. Then we must turn to them immediately after saying, “NO!”
H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out. “Fix your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, “I tried to push it out, and it didn’t work.” I ask, “How long did you try?” How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence. Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don’t let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ’s sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all your might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it.
E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don’t say, “That’s just not me.” What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? Don’t be fatalistic. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart — more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don’t have: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.
M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:11). “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus’s sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.
Fighting at your side,