Monthly Archives: September 2014

Job 16 – Job Answers Eliphaz


Job 16 – Job Answers Eliphaz

A. Job laments his miserable comforters.

1. (1-5) Job reproaches his pitiless friends.

Then Job answered and said:
“I have heard many such things;
Miserable comforters are you all!
Shall words of wind have an end?
Or what provokes you that you answer?
I also could speak as you do,
If your soul were in my soul’s place.
I could heap up words against you,
And shake my head at you;
But I would strengthen you with my mouth,
And the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.”

a. I have heard many such things: Job reminded his critics that all they gave him was the “conventional wisdom” explanation of an absolute relationship of cause and effect to make sense of his suffering. Job’s friends said, “Everyone knows these things” (as in Job 15:14-15); Job’s response was “It is all what we have heard before; I have heard many such things).

i. “These sayings of the ancients are not strange to me; but they do not apply to my case: ye see me in affliction, ye should endeavour to console me. This ye do not; and yet ye pretend to do it! Miserable comforters are ye all.” (Clarke)

b. Miserable comforters are you all! Job hoped this reproach would shame his accusers into seeing just how greatly they failed to help Job. Their too-great confidence in their own wisdom made them unable to properly sympathize with Job. They did much better in the days when they simply sat silently with the suffering Job (Job 2:11-13).

i. Trapp attempted to capture the heart of Job’s complaint: “You charge me for slighting the consolations of God, and pretend to come purposely to comfort me; but such cold comforters I have seldom met with; for instead of abating and allaying my sorrows, you do all you can to increase and heighten them. Is this your kindness to your friend?”

ii. “Job, with purpose, chose a word (amal) Eliphaz used to suggest Job had conceived his own misery (‘trouble,’ Job 15:35); and he threw it back at him in the epithet ‘miserable comforters’ (Job 16:2).” (Smick)

c. Shall words of wind have an end? Job just wanted his friends to stop their windy speeches, full of condemnation. It seems that this part of Job’s trial was a severe as the losses described in Job 1 and 2.

i. “The chief reason fro being suspicious of the theology of Job’s friends is that it is so obviously lacking in mercy.” (Mason)

d. I also could speak as you do . . . I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you: Job recognized that he could indeed be in the same place of unsympathetic condemnation towards his friends as they were towards him. Yet he also saw that his suffering had changed his perspective, and would now instead strengthen and comfort them.

i. “The folly of criticizing sorrow from the vantage point of prosperity is declared. Job said that he could speak as they if they were in his place, but he would not do it. He would attempt to strengthen them.” (Morgan)

ii. One of the great advantages of personal suffering is that it makes the sufferer far more sympathetic towards others who suffer. Those who otherwise would have been harsh and strict towards those suffering will often find themselves much more willing to give strength and comfort towards others who suffer similar grief.

2. (6-14) Job laments the rejection by his friends.

“Though I speak, my grief is not relieved;
And if I remain silent, how am I eased?
But now He has worn me out;
You have made desolate all my company.
You have shriveled me up,
And it is a witness against me;
My leanness rises up against me
And bears witness to my face.
He tears me in His wrath, and hates me;
He gnashes at me with His teeth;
My adversary sharpens His gaze on me.
They gape at me with their mouth,
They strike me reproachfully on the cheek,
They gather together against me.
God has delivered me to the ungodly,
And turned me over to the hands of the wicked.
I was at ease, but He has shattered me;
He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces;
He has set me up for His target,
His archers surround me.
He pierces my heart and does not pity;
He pours out my gall on the ground.
He breaks me with wound upon wound;
He runs at me like a warrior.”

a. Though I speak, my grief is not relieved; and if I remain silent, how am I eased: Job felt trapped by both options. If he speaks, he finds no relief from his unsympathetic friends; yet silence does nothing to ease his grief.

i. “Many forms of grief find relief in expression . . . but Job says that he cannot get any assuagement of his grief through expressing it.” (Chambers)

b. Now He has worn me out: Job here seemed close to surrender to God; to simply acknowledge that in his struggle with God, God had indeed won. God had stripped everything away from Job and exhausted him. Job’s exhausted condition was a witness against him.

i. You have made desolate all my company either refers to the loss of Job’s family (described in Job 1), or in the desolate manner of Job’s unhelpful companions.

c. He tears at me in His wrath, and hates me . . . my adversary sharpens His gaze on me: Job felt he was in a supreme conflict; not with his friends, not with his circumstances, but with his God – or at least with his prior conception of God and how God worked things. His crisis threw all that prior conception into uncertainty and he now felt that he was under attack from God.

i. Some commentators (such as Adam Clarke) believe that the He of Job 16:9 is Satan and not God; G. Campbell Morgan wondered if Job had “seen some faint outline of the shadow of the foe,” having some perception of the work of Satan described in the first two chapters. Nevertheless, “Verse 11 explicitly names God as the assailant; but the plural in verse 10 suggests that Job is also complaining about God’s human allies.” (Andersen)

ii. “Eliphaz accused Job of attacking God, but Job claimed the reverse was true; God assailed him.” (Smick)

iii. “It is infinitely painful to Job that God is now inexplicably acting like an enemy. . . . Only a literal translation can do justice to the savagery of Job’s description of God’s vicious attack. He is like a ferocious beast (16:9f.), a traitor (16:11), a wrestler (16:12a, b), an archer (12c, 13a), a swordsman (13b, 14).” (Andersen)

iv. “What strange language is this from him who elsewhere calleth God his salvation, his redeemer, Job 13:15, 16, 18; 19:25, and will by-and-by call him his witness in heaven, to whom his eye poureth out tears!” (Trapp)

v. “He sees himself as the object of God’s wrath. He pictures God as a savage beast, hunting him down, and tearing him apart limb from limb. Our suffering can give us a distorted view of God, can’t it?” (Lawson)

vi. It seems that Job here wrestled with God just as intensely as Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 32:22-32). The similarity of the struggle is instructive, given the difference in their character. Jacob wrestled with God as a carnal man who needed to be conquered. Job struggled with God as a godly man also needed to be conquered, or at least more conquered.

d. They gather together against me: Part of Job’s agony was related to the idea that this entire struggle was so public, acted out in front of the audience of his friends and onlookers. At least Jacob’s struggle with God was private; the public nature of Job’s crisis made him feel that his friends were on God’s side against him in some way, or used by God as another way to deepen his crisis (God has delivered me to the ungodly).

i. In recalling the attacks of the ungodly, Job remembered the cruel attacks of the Chaldeans and Sabeans that came upon his servants and livestock, as recorded in the first chapter.

e. I was at ease, but He has shattered me: Job piled one poetic description upon another to powerfully communicate his feeling that God was against him. Accord to how Job felt:

· God had assaulted Job as in a street fight (He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces)
· God was the pitiless archer and Job was the target (He has set me up for His target)
· God was the warrior who utterly slew Job (He breaks me with wound upon wound; He runs at me like a warrior)

i. There is a sense in which Job is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ, the righteous one on the cross who nevertheless became a target of God’s righteous wrath; not because he deserved it, but because it was in the good and greater plan of God to do so.

ii. We especially recognize the idea from Job 16:10: They gape at me with their mouth, they strike me reproachfully on the cheek, they gather together against me. “Our Saviour was so served according to the letter; they gaped upon him, mowed at him, buffeted him on the face, gathered themselves together against him, as here. Hence some of the ancients call Job a figure and type of Christ, who was thus dealt with both literally and also figuratively.” (Trapp)

iii. He pours out my gall on the ground: “The gall is affixed to the liver, and when that is poured out; the man cannot live, because his wound is mortal and incurable.” (Trapp)

B. Job’s continuing misery.

1. (15-17) Job wonders why his righteous life has deserved his dark trial.

“I have sewn sackcloth over my skin,
And laid my head in the dust.
My face is flushed from weeping,
And on my eyelids is the shadow of death;
Although no violence is in my hands,
And my prayer is pure.”

a. I have sewn sackcloth over my skin: Job recounted the demonstrations of his grief including sackcloth, dust on the head, and weeping.

b. Although no violence is in my hands, and my prayer is pure: Job simply could not reconcile his previous righteous and pious life with his present desolation. Why would God attack (as described in Job 16:12-14) such a righteous and pious man?

i. My prayer is pure: “There is one thing that he will not let go – the testimony of his conscience, that he has lived as the friend of God, not as his enemy. He is certain that he does not belong to the class whose sins and punishment his friends have set before him for a warning. To this certainty he clings as to a plank in the devouring waves. Deep is his anguish, but he is conscience-free.” (Bradley)

2. (18-22) Job protests to creation.

“O earth, do not cover my blood,
And let my cry have no resting place!
Surely even now my witness is in heaven,
And my evidence is on high.
My friends scorn me;
My eyes pour out tears to God.
Oh, that one might plead for a man with God,
As a man pleads for his neighbor!
For when a few years are finished,
I shall go the way of no return.”

a. O earth, do not cover my blood: Job here begged the creation to not erase his life. If he were to die in his crises, Job at least wanted his blood to remain evident as a testimony.

i. “The earth is said to cover that blood which lies undiscovered and unrevenged; of which see on Genesis 4:10-11; Isaiah 26:21.” (Poole)

ii. “With a cry of almost bewildering boldness, he appeals to his mother-earth, from which the blood of righteous Abel once cried up to God, not to cover his blood, when the end comes at last, but to let the cry of his wronged life go up from her bosom, and find no rest till it has pierced the ear of God.” (Bradley)

iii. “Job thought that he would die before he could be vindicated before his peers; so he was concerned that the injustice done to him should never be forgotten.” (Smick)

b. Surely even now my witness is in heaven: We see here the mental and spiritual struggle at work in Job. A few verses before (as in Job 16:12-14) he believed God fought against him will all His divine strength and skill. Nevertheless, Job also truly did believe that he had a righteous witness in heaven that would vindicate him as all the evidence was revealed.

i. “In the midst of all this travail of soul, his faith triumphed over his doubt. He believed that God knew the truth about him, and would be his witness. . . . This is another instance of the light breaking forth, if only for a moment, from his deepest life.” (Morgan)

ii. “By ‘witness’ he intended a watcher, who knows, and knows all. He was surrounded by men who were perfectly honest, and were his friends, but who failed in what they were saying to him, because they did not know all. They thought they did. . . . In the midst of the suffering of this misunderstanding, he declared his conviction that there was One in heaven watching, understanding, knowing all.” (Morgan)

c. My friends scorn me; my eyes pour out tears to God: In one poetic and powerful sentence, Job described his present agony. He was sometimes confident in his future and ultimate vindication, yet also lived in the agony of his moment.

d. Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor! Job here recognized that what he needed was a true advocate in heaven; someone to plead his case before God.

i. Job anticipated the need that would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is both our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and our advocate (1 John 2:1) in heaven before God the Father. “It is plain that the mystery of man’s redemption by Christ was known to the ancient patriarchs, as hath been oft noted before, and to Job among others, Job 19:25.” (Poole)

ii. Job knew that he needed a mediator, someone to bridge the gap between himself and a holy, great God. Job also knew by faith that such a person existed and could be trusted. This made Job a believer in Jesus before Jesus ever walked the earth; he had faith in God’s messiah to come.

iii. In anticipation of the Messiah, Job essentially said: “Christ, who is God and man, will plead my cause with his Father; he can prevail, because he is God equal to the Father; he will undertake it, because he will be man like to me.” (Trapp)

iv. This reminds us that although the comfort of faith in God’s unseen hand and plan was available to Job, it is even more available to us in light of the finished work of Jesus Christ and His exaltation to the right hand of God the Father in heaven.

e. For when a few years are finished, I shall go the way of no return: Job would not live long enough to see his longing fulfilled in Jesus Christ, yet He would be eventually comforted by the anticipation of that fulfillment.

i. “Perhaps it is enough to find here another expression of the thought that a man’s short life-span does not give enough time to solve the problems of life. With increasing clarity Job is seeing that satisfactory answers might be gained only when he has more direct dealings with God after death.” (Andersen)


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Job 15 – Eliphaz Speaks in the Second Round of Speeches


Job 15 – Eliphaz Speaks in the Second Round of Speeches

A. Eliphaz criticizes Job a second time.

1. (1-6) The answer and accusation of Eliphaz.

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
“Should a wise man answer with empty knowledge,
And fill himself with the east wind?
Should he reason with unprofitable talk,
Or by speeches with which he can do no good?
Yes, you cast off fear,
And restrain prayer before God.
For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
And you choose the tongue of the crafty.
Your own mouth condemns you, and not I;
Yes, your own lips testify against you.”

a. Should a wise man answer with empty knowledge: Eliphaz was not impressed by Job’s eloquent dependence on God as expressed in the previous chapters. He replied with a sharp rebuke of Job, accusing him of empty knowledge, of unprofitable talk, and of having cast off fear.

i. “As Job becomes more vehement, his friends become more severe. At first Eliphaz was gentle and courteous (Job 4:2). Now his politeness diminishes, and he bluntly accuses Job of folly and impiety.” (Andersen)

ii. As the discussion becomes more heated, it also becomes more coarse. “In his opening lines Eliphaz accused Job of belching out a hot wind of useless words.” (Smick) “The word translated himself is literally ‘belly’ (AV). The intriguing possibility arises from the use of the pi’el verb fill as privative. This would reverse the meaning to ‘empty’, which suits the context. Eliphaz has become coarse. Job’s speeches are an excretion of belly wind.” (Andersen)

b. Or by speeches with which he can do no good: Eliphaz sought to discourage Job from his self-defense. “It isn’t doing any good, Job. We aren’t listening to you. You are not persuading us.”

c. And restrain prayer before God: Eliphaz was wrong in his judgment of Job; though Eliphaz could not see Job’s secret prayer life, he was a man of piety and prayer as Job 1 demonstrates.

i. Nevertheless, certainly some people do restrain prayer before God. Spurgeon considered ways that some do this.

· Some restrain prayer before God because they do not pray often or regularly.
· Some restrain prayer before God because they do not prepare their hearts properly to pray. They do not consider who they are praying to, the way their prayer should be made, that they are sinners, what they should ask of God, and thankful for what He has done in the past.
· Some restrain prayer before God because they pray in such a formal, strict manner that they never really pour out their heart before God.
· Some restrain prayer before God because they pray with little faith and much unbelief.

d. Your own mouth condemns you, and not I: Eliphaz insisted that Job was also condemning himself more every time he spoke. This is because in the perspective of Job’s friends, the only words Job should speak are words of humble repentance for the sin that put him in this place.

2. (7-13) Eliphaz accuses Job of a lack of understanding.

“Are you the first man who was born?
Or were you made before the hills?
Have you heard the counsel of God?
Do you limit wisdom to yourself?
What do you know that we do not know?
What do you understand that is not in us?
Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us,
Much older than your father.
Are the consolations of God too small for you,
And the word spoken gently with you?
Why does your heart carry you away,
And what do your eyes wink at,
That you turn your spirit against God,
And let such words go out of your mouth?”

a. Were you made before the hills? Eliphaz argued along similar lines as God later did with Job in chapters 38 and 39. They both appealed to Job to consider that he did not know as much as he thought he did. Yet, what Eliphaz thought Job didn’t know was entirely different than what God knew Job didn’t know.

b. What do you know that we do not know? Job could not claim to be the first man who was born, or could not claim he was made before the hills, or claim that he had heard the counsel of God. Yet Job could rightly claim to know more than his friends did in his situation. They “knew” Job was a particular and notorious sinner who needed to repent; Job knew that he was not, and that there must be some other reason for his crisis.

i. “Thus he goes on to jeer Job, and to accuse him of insolent arrogancy, as if he had taken himself to be of God’s cabinet-council, and so to have known more of his mind than any other.” (Trapp)

ii. “The charges are not deserved. Job has made no such exaggerated claims. He had claimed only to be as intelligent as his friends (Job 12:3), not to have a monopoly of knowledge (Job 15:8).” (Andersen)

c. Are the consolations of God too small for you? It is important to remember that Eliphaz considered the consolations of God to be the advice of he and his friends. He assumed that if Job rejected their advice, he was rejecting God’s consolations. Therefore, he thought that Job had turned his spirit against God.

i. “However wrong Eliphaz may have been in reference to Job and in reference to him his remarks were grossly unjust-yet many of them are correct in themselves, and may usefully be applied to our own hearts. Inasmuch as Eliphaz, in this verse, teaches no doctrine, but only asks two searching questions, he cannot mislead us; but he may do us good service.” (Spurgeon)

ii. Spurgeon suggested what some of the consolations of God are that are considered by some to be too small and neglected or rejected:

· The consolations of God are applied by the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter.
· Jesus is the substance of these consolations, for He is called “The Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25)
· The consolations of God deal with our problem of sin; its guilt and stain and power.
· The consolations of God assure us of a new heart and nature.
· The consolations of God reveal a reason for sorrow that remains.
· The consolations of God show us One who suffers with us; Jesus Christ.
· The consolations of God compensate us for all trials and sufferings.
· The consolations of God tell us of our heavenly destination and hope.

B. Eliphaz groups Job with the wicked deserving of and receiving judgment.

1. (14-16) The universal impurity of mankind.

“What is man, that he could be pure?
And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?
If God puts no trust in His saints,
And the heavens are not pure in His sight,
How much less man, who is abominable and filthy,
Who drinks iniquity like water!”

a. What is man, that he could be pure? Job and his friends have already argued over this point, with Zophar (among others) accusing Job of claiming to be pure and clean (Job 11:4). Job’s own admissions of sin have meant nothing to persuade his friends that not only is he a sinner in a general sense, but he must also be one in a particular and wicked sense.

b. How much less man, who is abominable and filthy: Eliphaz seems to have the angels in mind with the reference to saints in Job 15:15. If God puts no trust in His saints, then it is entirely logical that He has even less confidence in man, who drinks iniquity like water.

2. (17-26) The suffering that comes upon the wicked.

“I will tell you, hear me;
What I have seen I will declare,
What wise men have told,
Not hiding anything received from their fathers,
To whom alone the land was given,
And no alien passed among them:
The wicked man writhes with pain all his days,
And the number of years is hidden from the oppressor.
Dreadful sounds are in his ears;
In prosperity the destroyer comes upon him.
He does not believe that he will return from darkness,
For a sword is waiting for him.
He wanders about for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’
He knows that a day of darkness is ready at his hand.
Trouble and anguish make him afraid;
They overpower him, like a king ready for battle.
For he stretches out his hand against God,
And acts defiantly against the Almighty,
Running stubbornly against Him
With his strong, embossed shield.”

a. What I have seen I will declare, what wise men have told: Again, Job’s friends appeal to the idea of tradition and “all the wise people know this.” They speak in terms of cause and effect associations between human wickedness and received judgment, and assume that this principle is always true in all cases – especially in Job’s particular case.

i. “When once the sledge-hammer of tradition is brought to bear there is nothing more to say. . . . The Pharisees adopted this method with Jesus. . . . The ‘Eliphaz’ method has hindered more souls in developing the life with God than almost any other thing.” (Chambers)

b. The wicked man writhes in pain all his days: “Job, it is only the wicked who suffer as you do. You are suffering in great pain; therefore you must be one of the wicked. The sooner you confess this and repent of it, the better it will be for you.”

i. “If the friends are right, these and the army of the defeated whom they represent, those, the victims of the chances, as we say, of life, ‘on whom the Tower of Siloam fell’ are all rejected of God, all sinners beyond their brethren. And behind these, is the form of One, who was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, from whom we, his fellow-men, who stood around his cross – hid as it were our faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not.” (Bradley)

c. He stretches out his hand against God, and acts defiantly against the Almighty: By association, Eliphaz clearly accuses Job of this arrogance and defiance; of virtually attacking God (running stubbornly against Him with his strong, embossed shield).

i. “If Eliphaz had been wise he would have seen what Job was getting at – ‘Job is facing something I do not see; I don’t understand his problem, but I will treat him with respect’. Instead of that he said, ‘According to my traditional belief, you are a hypocrite, Job’.” (Chambers)

ii. “There is no tenderness here. The philosophy of life is stated wholly on the negative side, and it was impossible for Job to misunderstand the meaning.” (Morgan)

3. (27-35) The certainty of God’s judgment against the wicked.

“Though he has covered his face with his fatness,
And made his waist heavy with fat,
He dwells in desolate cities,
In houses which no one inhabits,
Which are destined to become ruins.
He will not be rich,
Nor will his wealth continue,
Nor will his possessions overspread the earth.
He will not depart from darkness;
The flame will dry out his branches,
And by the breath of His mouth he will go away.
Let him not trust in futile things, deceiving himself,
For futility will be his reward.
It will be accomplished before his time,
And his branch will not be green.
He will shake off his unripe grape like a vine,
And cast off his blossom like an olive tree.
For the company of hypocrites will be barren,
And fire will consume the tents of bribery.
They conceive trouble and bring forth futility;
Their womb prepares deceit.”

a. Though he as covered his face with fatness . . . He dwells in desolate cities: Eliphaz poetically explained that the wicked may seem to succeed for a while (as Job did), but their success is only an illusion. They actually are lonely, poor, and in darkness (a true description of Job’s present state).

i. “Being fat in that world was not objectionable. It was the proof of prosperity. Here Eliphaz was admitting that the wicked do prosper; but as he said in Job 15:29, ‘His wealth will not endure.’” (Smick)

ii. There was wisdom in Eliphaz’s description of the ungodly and their destiny. The problem was that they did not apply to Job and his situation. “Apart from the fact that these words did not fit the case of Job, they constitute a magnificent description of the unutterable folly of the man who rebels.” (Morgan)

b. They conceive trouble and bring forth futility: In this indirect manner, Eliphaz accuses Job of all kinds of sin including hypocrisy, bribery, trouble-making, and lying.

i. “It was hard to convince Job, and it is hard to convince us, that that fair and dutiful life had been based on guilt and hypocrisy; that all this misery was the well-deserved, well-measured requital of a life that was a lie.” (Bradley)

ii. “As the discussion deepens we see all three of the friends goring more and more convinced that Job is his own worst enemy and that his trials are entirely of his own making.” (Mason)

iii. “Poor Job! What a fight of affliction had he to contend with! His body wasted and tortured with sore disease, his mind harassed by Satan; and his heart wrung with the unkindness, and false accusations of his friends. No wonder he was greatly agitated, often distracted, and sometimes even thrown off his guard. However, all his enemies were chained; and beyond that chain they could not go. God was his unseen Protector, and did not suffer his faithful servant to be greatly moved.” (Clarke)

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Job 14 – Job Considers the Grave and the Afterlife


Job 14 – Job Considers the Grave and the Afterlife

A. Frail man and a mighty God.

1. (1-2) Job muses on the frailty of man.

“Man who is born of woman
Is of few days and full of trouble.
He comes forth like a flower and fades away;
He flees like a shadow and does not continue.”

a. Few of days and full of trouble: Having mentioned the idea of the frailty of men in general and his own frailty in particular, Job here expands on the idea. He considers that the days of man on this earth are short and often full of trouble.

b. He flees like a shadow and does not continue: Considering the life of man – fleeting and frail – Job also speculated on what happened to man after this fading, shadow-like life; considering that perhaps it does not continue.

i. “Job was not giving a general polemic against resurrection. On the contrary, he was saying that if God wanted to, he could hide Job in Sheol till his anger passed and then raise him (Job 14:13).” (Smick)

2. (3-6) Job’s prayer: “Consider how frail man is and have mercy on him.”

“And do You open Your eyes on such a one,
And bring me to judgment with Yourself?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!
Since his days are determined,
The number of his months is with You;
You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.
Look away from him that he may rest,
Till like a hired man he finishes his day.”

a. Do You open Your eyes on such a one: Job here applied his previous thoughts on the fleeting and frail nature of humanity to prayer over his own situation. “God, You see that I am the rotting one; the moth-eaten garment; the fading flower and the fleeing shadow. Look upon me in mercy!”

b. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! Job despairs that perhaps God demands something of him that he is unable to be or do. If God demands perfect cleanness before He will relieve Job’s affliction, then Job knew he could never meet that standard.

i. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? “I do not say, I am clean, as Zophar pretendeth; but confess that I am a very unclean creature, and therefore liable to thy justice, if thou wilt deal rigorously with me; but remember that this is not my peculiar case, but the common lot of every man.” (Poole)

c. You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass. Look away from him that he may rest: Job continued to paint the picture of God fencing man in, restricting his movements. Under such an idea, it would be better if God would just look away so the afflicted one could rest.

B. Job’s meditation of what lies beyond this life.

1. (7-12) Job considers the idea that man does not live beyond the grave.

“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,
Yet at the scent of water it will bud
And bring forth branches like a plant.
But man dies and is laid away;
Indeed he breathes his last
And where is he?
As water disappears from the sea,
And a river becomes parched and dries up,
So man lies down and does not rise.
Till the heavens are no more,
They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.”

a. There is hope for a tree: Job here observed that there is a sort of resurrection in the world of trees and plants; new life can sprout out of an old stump.

b. But a man dies and is laid away: As far as Job could see, death ends the existence of man and after death a man simply disappears (And where is he?) As Job thought about it, it all seemed so unfair. Why should a tree have a better hope of resurrection than a man?

c. So man lies down and does not rise. . . . They will not awake nor be roused from their sleep: We come to another place in the Book of Job reflecting the shadowy and uncertain understanding of the afterlife. We can simply say that Job was wrong in his understanding of the afterlife.

i. We can explain Job’s lack of knowledge of the afterlife by understanding the principle of 2 Timothy 2:10: that Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. The understanding of immortality was at best cloudy in the Old Testament, but is much clearer in the New Testament. For example, we can say that Jesus knew fully what He was talking about when He described hell and judgment (such as in Matthew 25:41-46). We therefore rely on the New Testament for our understanding of the afterlife, much more than the Old.

ii. We also understand that this does not in any way take away from the truth of the Bible and the Book of Job. What is true is that Job actually said this and actually believed it; the truth of the statement itself must be evaluated according to the rest of the Bible.

iii. Later, God challenged and corrected Job’s presumptuous assertions regarding the afterlife, reminding Job that he did not in fact know that life after death was like (Job 38:2 and 38:17).

2. (13-17) Job longs for the grave and hopes for something beyond.

“Oh, that You would hide me in the grave,
That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,
That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my hard service I will wait,
Till my change comes.
You shall call, and I will answer You;
You shall desire the work of Your hands.
For now You number my steps,
But do not watch over my sin.
My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And You cover my iniquity.”

a. Oh, that You would hide me in the grave: Job didn’t know much about the condition of man after death, but he supposed – perhaps hoped – that it was better than his current misery. Yet Job’s general uncertainty is reflected in his question, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”

i. “It was a tremendous question: but let us remind ourselves that there is no answer to it, save that which came to men through Jesus Christ and His Gospel. As Paul said, it is He ‘Who brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel’ (2 Timothy 1:10). The question of Job was answered by Jesus, and that so completely as to leave no room for doubt.” (Morgan)

ii. “We read of that godly and learned Scotch divine, Mr. John Knox, that a little before his death he got up out of his bed, and being asked by his friends, why, being so sick, he would offer to rise, and not rather take his rest? He answered, that he had all the last night been taken up on the meditation of the resurrection, and that he would now go up into the pulpit, that he might impart to others the comforts which thereby himself had received. And surely if he had been able to have done as he desired, I know not what text fitter for his purpose he could have taken, than these words of Job, ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’” (Trapp)

b. All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes: Job looked for the change he hoped death to bring, that at least it would relieve him from his present agony.

i. “Even if God kills him (before his vindication?) he will wait in hope. His readiness to go down into death in faith transforms his ideas of Sheol . . . It is now seen as a temporary hiding place . . . It is another period of contracted service. Even if silent now, God will be heard then.” (Andersen)

ii. “Three glimpses of this glorious change were seen: 1. In Moses’ face. 2. In Christ’s transfiguration. 3. In Stephen’s countenance when he stood before the council. Such a change as this is well worth waiting for.”

iii. We also wait for our change to come.

· We shall be changed into immortality at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
· When we see Him, we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).
· Our bodies will be gloriously transformed (Philippians 3:21).
· David was confident he would be changed into God’s likeness (Psalm 17:15).

iv. At the same time, there are some things that will not change for the believer when they go to heaven.

· A Christian’s purpose and priority of life does not change.
· A Christian’s identity does not change.
· A Christian’s companions will not change very much.

c. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands: Job here hoped for a restoration of relationship with God after death, since he no longer really hoped for a restoration during this life.

i. We see the tension (perhaps confusion) in Job regarding the afterlife. To say, “You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands” is much more hopeful and positive than previous statements.

ii. The idea that God shall desire the work of His hands is powerful. “ ‘Thou will pant with desire;’ or, ‘Thou wilt yearn over the work of thy hands.’ God has subjected the creature to vanity, in hope; having determined the resurrection. Man is one of the noblest works of God. He has exhibited him as a master-piece of his creative skill, power, and goodness. Nothing less than the strongest call upon his justice could have induced him thus to destroy the work of his hands. No wonder that he has an earnest desire towards it . . . Even God is represented as earnestly longing for the ultimate reviviscence of the sleeping dust. He cannot, he will not, forget the work of his hands.” (Clarke)

d. But do not watch over my sin. . . . You cover my iniquity: Job prayed these words not only because he desperately wanted God to not judge him according to the full measure of his sins, but also because he wanted Zophar and the others to hear that Job did in fact know that he was a sinner, and not perfect (as Zophar accused Job of in Job 11:4).

i. My transgression is sealed up in a bag: “This includes two ideas: 1. Job’s transgressions were all numbered; not one was passed by. 2. They were sealed up; so that none of them could be lost. These bags were indifferently sewed or sealed, the two words in the text.” (Clarke)

3. (18-22) Job considers the limitless power of God – and despairs.

“But as a mountain falls and crumbles away,
And as a rock is moved from its place;
As water wears away stones,
And as torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
So You destroy the hope of man.
You prevail forever against him, and he passes on;
You change his countenance and send him away.
His sons come to honor, and he does not know it;
They are brought low, and he does not perceive it.
But his flesh will be in pain over it,
And his soul will mourn over it.”

a. So You destroy the hope of man: Job pictured a great mountain crumbling away, or a flood sweeping away great tracts of earth; he considered that this illustrated the way that God sweeps away the hope of man. The idea is that when God sets Himself against a man, there is nothing the man can do; God will prevail forever against him, and he passes on.

i. In Job’s poetic outpouring in chapter 14, in the middle of the poem he gives his glorious confidence in the resurrection; yet the poem ends back in despair (So You destroy the hope of man). Yet it would be wrong to think that it means that Job’s hope of resurrection was only temporary or fleeting. We should not be of those “expecting Job to use western logic in constructing his discourse so that an argument is followed through step by step until the result is reached at the end.” (Andersen)

ii. “The author’s real convictions may be stated in the middle of a poem, flanked before and after by contrasting opinions which he rejects. Verse 14-17 then constitute the high point of the speech, and reaffirm the faith already expressed in chapter 13, especially in verse 15.” (Andersen)

b. His sons come to honor, and he does not know it: The man swept away by God does not know the good or bad things that happen to his family after he passes from this life. Job considered how fundamentally unfair all of this seemed; that somehow, even this swept away one’s flesh will be in pain over it – over the not knowing as much as anything else.

c. And his soul will mourn over it: These words fittingly conclude this section recording Job’s speech to his friends and his prayers to God. His soul is genuinely in mourning, and much of what we read is the agonized outpouring of his feelings.

i. It is easy to read these emotional outbursts and the lack of theological detachment in this blameless and upright man and think that Job was less spiritual than he should be. Yet we remember that the Book of Job records many of Job’s opinions (born out of great pain and frustration), opinions that are later corrected and reproved (Job 38:2 and 38:17).

ii. We are somewhat reminded of Jesus’ words at Mark 15:34: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? One the one hand, those words were a true and accurate description of how Jesus felt; He rightly felt forsaken by God the Father at that moment. He felt it because Jesus not only endured the withdrawal of the Father’s fellowship, but also the actual outpouring of the Father’s wrath upon Him as a substitute for sinful humanity. At the same time, we cannot say that the separation between the Father and the Son at the cross was complete, because as 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself at the cross.

iii. According to the same example, we can say of Job’s suffering that his feelings were real and understandable; yet there was a truth that went beyond his feelings that made sense of his suffering, though that truth was completely veiled to Job.

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Job 13 – Job Challenges His Critics


Job 13 – Job Challenges His Critics

A. Job’s challenge to his critics.

1. (1-12) Job’s strong rebuke to his friends.

“Behold, my eye has seen all this,
My ear has heard and understood it.
What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
But I would speak to the Almighty,
And I desire to reason with God.
But you forgers of lies,
You are all worthless physicians.
Oh, that you would be silent,
And it would be your wisdom!
Now hear my reasoning,
And heed the pleadings of my lips.
Will you speak wickedly for God,
And talk deceitfully for Him?
Will you show partiality for Him?
Will you contend for God?
Will it be well when He searches you out?
Or can you mock Him as one mocks a man?
He will surely rebuke you
If you secretly show partiality.
Will not His excellence make you afraid,
And the dread of Him fall upon you?
Your platitudes are proverbs of ashes,
Your defenses are defenses of clay.”

a. Behold, my eye has seen all this . . . What you know, I also know: Job here complained against the claim of superior knowledge on the part of his friends. To them – especially perhaps to Zophar – the situation seemed so simple; therefore Job must be somewhat ignorant to see what they believed was so easy to see.

b. I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God: Job here developed a theme that would end with a virtual demand that God make sense of his suffering. God’s response to Job’s demand (and Job’s response to God’s response) makes up the last few chapters of the book.

i. We sense the deep frustration in Job that prompted this plea, “I desire to reason with God.” It was bad enough when he could make no sense of his situation; but it was worse when his friends persistently insisted on their own wrong answer to Job’s crisis. As much as anything, it was their insistence that prompted Job to demand an answer (and vindication with it) from God.

c. You forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians: The same devastating frustration that led Job to wish he were dead now leads him in bitter response to his friends’ accusations.

i. We can sympathize with Job’s situation and turmoil, all the while recognizing that we are called to a better standard than Job: Repay no one evil for evil (Romans 12:17; see also 1 Peter 2:21-23).

d. Will you speak wickedly for God . . . Will you contend for God? Job’s friends were very confident in their ability to speak for God; but since what they said was not true, they actually misrepresented them. They acted like lawyers on God’s behalf; but since they did not truly represent Him, Job could rightly ask: “Will it be well when He searches you out?”

i. “Job warned them about lying even while they uttered beautiful words in defense of God. If they were going to plead God’s case, they had better do it honestly. God would judge them for their deceit even if they used it in his behalf (Job 13:8-9).” (Smick)

e. He will surely rebuke you if you secretly show partiality: The partiality Job’s friends showed was toward themselves. Job knew they would never want to be treated the way they were treating Job.

f. Your platitudes are proverbs of ashes: The friends of Job claimed to know wisdom and speak wisely; Job dismissed their supposed guidance as mere platitudes. Their wisdom had no substance, no use, and left Job feeling burned-over – truly, proverbs of ashes.

i. “The idea is that men may argue in defence of God upon false lines, through limited knowledge. That is exactly what these men had been doing. The result was that they were unjust to Job. They did not know it: they did not intend that it should be so. But it was so.” (Morgan)

2. (13-19) Job’s confidence in God and his own integrity.

“Hold your peace with me, and let me speak,
Then let come on me what may!
Why do I take my flesh in my teeth,
And put my life in my hands?
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.
He also shall be my salvation,
For a hypocrite could not come before Him.
Listen carefully to my speech,
And to my declaration with your ears.
See now, I have prepared my case,
I know that I shall be vindicated.
Who is he who will contend with me?
If now I hold my tongue, I perish.”

a. Hold your peace with me, and let me speak: Perhaps at this point Job’s friends tried to interrupt him, or said their own words of protest. Job demanded the right to finish his statement.

b. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him: This is the attitude that will see Job through his past and present crises. He did not understand any of his situation and felt that God was against him, not for him (as in Job 9:28 and 10:16-17). At the same time, he could still exclaim: yet I will trust Him.

i. “I have no dependence but God; I trust him alone. Should he even destroy my life by this affliction, yet will I hope that when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Clarke)

ii. Writing fictionally in the voice of a senior demon instructing a junior demon in his popular book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis stated – from a demon’s perspective – this dynamic of trial in the life of the believer: “He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

iii. “It is well worthy of observation that in these words Job answered both the accusations of Satan and the charges of his friends. Though I do not know that Job was aware that the devil had said, ‘Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not set a hedge about him and all that he hath?’ Yet he answered that base suggestion in the ablest possible manner, for he did in effect say, ‘Though God should pull down my hedge, and lay me bare as the wilderness itself, yet will I cling to him in firmest faith.’” (Spurgeon)

iv. “There are three things in the text: a terrible supposition — “though he slay me”; a noble resolution, “yet will I trust in him”; and, thirdly, a secret appropriateness. This last will require a little looking into, but I hope to make it clear that there is a great appropriateness in our trusting while God is slaying us — the two things go well together, though it may not so appear.” (Spurgeon)

v. Charles Spurgeon listed several reasons why he thought that “slaying times” were good times.

· Such times show us that we are really His sons and daughters, because He only chastens His children.
· Such times – slaying times – are when real faith is created.
· Such times are when God tests and affirms our faith.
· Such times are when we can grow in faith.
· Such times allow the child of God to prove that they are not a mercenary professor of faith.

vi. “Once more, the grim supposition of the text, if ever it was realized by anybody it was realized by our Lord Jesus. Our great covenant Head knows to the full what his members suffer. God did slay him, and glory be to his blessed name, he trusted God while he was being slain.” (Spurgeon)

c. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. . . . I know that I shall be vindicated: Before his crisis, Job believed himself to be a blameless and upright man, as indeed he was (Job 1:1 and 1:8). He steadfastly clung to this believe throughout all his experience of calamity, and through all the protests and arguments of his friends. Even before God, he would defend his own ways – not in arrogance, but in determined connection with reality.

i. In this Job is a remarkable example of a man who will not forfeit what he knows to be true in the midst of the storm. This is actually an area of great difficulty; because such storms are undeniably helpful in shaking us from wrong beliefs. Some who have felt they had Job’s determination to hold on to the truth actually merely were sinfully stubborn. Yet Job did not question the concept of truth or his ability to know it; he knew that God himself would agree that Job’s disaster did not come upon him because of special or severe sin; he knew God himself would agree that Job was a blameless and upright man (Job 1:1 and 1:8).

d. If now I hold my tongue, I perish: In one sense, it seems that Job felt that this determined connection to truth and reality was all he had. He had lost everything, including his sense of spiritual well-being. All he had was the truth, and he felt that if he let go of that to simply stop the argument or to please his friends, he would perish.

B. Job’s appeal to God.

1. (20-27) Job asks God to tell him if sin is indeed the cause of his suffering.

“Only two things do not do to me,
Then I will not hide myself from You:
Withdraw Your hand far from me,
And let not the dread of You make me afraid.
Then call, and I will answer;
Or let me speak, then You respond to me.
How many are my iniquities and sins?
Make me know my transgression and my sin.
Why do You hide Your face,
And regard me as Your enemy?
Will You frighten a leaf driven to and fro?
And will You pursue dry stubble?
For You write bitter things against me,
And make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.
You put my feet in the stocks,
And watch closely all my paths.
You set a limit for the soles of my feet.”

a. Do not . . . Withdraw Your hand far from me: Earlier, Job had told God that he just wanted to be left alone (Job 7:16). Now he shows that this previous feeling was just a feeling, and that really he did not want God to withdraw His hand far from him.

i. This shows that at least in a small sense, Job understood that God’s hand was sustaining him in the midst of this great trial. We understand his feeling of abandonment; yet Job can grudgingly admit that God’s hand has been with him in the fire of affliction.

ii. Then I will not hide myself from You: “Job has never hidden from God and has no intention of doing so. On the contrary, it is the hiddenness of God that is horrifying him. Cain’s identical words in Genesis 4:14 describe his expulsion by God from His company. This is what Job things has happened to him (Job 13:24 – clearly God’s act), and he can neither understand nor endure it.” (Andersen)

b. Let not the dread of You make me afraid: Here we sense the value that Job placed upon his personal connection with God, and worried that this present season would destroy it. Job wanted restored communication with God (Then call, and I will answer).

i. The fear Job was concerned about was not the good and proper fear of God; instead, this was prompted by dread. The wrong kind of fear of God is afraid that God will hurt us; the right kind is afraid that we will hurt God.

c. Make me know my transgression and my sin: Job has steadfastly held to his own innocence, in the sense that there was no special or severe sin that prompted his recent cataclysm of suffering, and despite the eloquent pleas of his friends. At the same time, he will allow for the possibility that he is wrong. Therefore, he prayed this wonderful prayer, asking God to show him his iniquities and sins.

i. Job’s words here catch the attitude of the later Psalmist: Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

d. Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy: Again, we sense Job’s agony. He longed for restored communication and communion with God, but felt as though God was hiding from him and regarded him as an enemy.

i. “If God would only stop tormenting him and communicate, Job felt all would end well.” (Smick)

e. Will You frighten a leaf driven to and fro? “It is a common figure he uses, that of a leaf driven to and fro. Strong gusts of wind, it may be in the autumn when the leaves hang but lightly upon the trees, send them falling in showers around us; quite helpless to stay their own course, fluttering in the air to and fro, like winged birds that cannot steer themselves, but are guided by every fitful blast that blows upon them, at last they sink into the mire, to be trodden down and forgotten. To them Job likens himself-a helpless, hopeless, worthless, weak, despised, perishing thing.” (Spurgeon)

i. O my brethren, what a great blessing it is to be made to know our own weakness. To empty the sinner of his folly, his vanity and conceit is no easy matter. Christ can easily fill him with wisdom and prudence, but to get him empty-this is the work; this is the difficulty. (Spurgeon)

f. You write bitter things against me, and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth: This is another example of the truth that Job did not believe himself to be without sin. Instead, he recognized the iniquities of my youth and feared that God was now charging these sins against him.

i. For You write bitter things against me: “The suggestion has been made that God is a doctor, writing a prescription for bitter medicine; or a judge, prescribing bitter punishment; or recording Job’s bitter crimes. . . . The writing is the decree allocating bitter things to Job.”

g. You put my feet in the stocks: Because he felt that God was against him, Job felt completely hindered and fenced-in by God. He felt as if his feet were limited and his paths were closely watched.

h. You set a limit for the soles of my feet: This is literally, You inscribe a print on my feet. Bullinger translates, “Making Thy mark upon my very feet, and comments: “As owners of cattle and camels, etc., put their mark upon the hoof, so that it may be known and traced.”

2. (28) Job laments the frailty of man.

“Man decays like a rotten thing,
Like a garment that is moth-eaten.

a. Man decays like a rotten thing: Job’s eloquent meditation on the greatness of God (especially in Job 12, earlier in this same speech) certainly elevated God. But it also made man, by comparison, seem like a rotten thing.

i. Job essentially agreed with Zophar’s understanding of the depravity of man (Job 11:5-6); his disagreement was with Zophar’s application of that doctrine to Job’s circumstance.

b. Like a garment that is moth-eaten: Job’s statement was more than a poetic description of the depravity of man in general; it was a discouraged sigh over his own condition. Job was the one decaying like a rotten thing; Job was like a garment that is moth-eaten. Zophar could talk about it; Job was living it.

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Job 12 – Job’s Sarcastic Reply


Job 12 – Job’s Sarcastic Reply

A. Job complains about his friends.

1. (1-3) Job sarcastically answers Zophar and his other friends.

Then Job answered and said:
“No doubt you are the people,
And wisdom will die with you!
But I have understanding as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Indeed, who does not know such things as these?”

a. No doubt you are the people: It is easy to hear the sarcastic and bitter tone of voice in Job. That tone was appropriately taken, because Job’s friends really had acted as if they were the people and if they had all wisdom.

b. I have understanding as well as you. . . . Indeed, who does not know such things as these? In rebuke to Zophar and his friends, Job made two points. First, that he also was a man of understanding. Second, that the theological principles presented by Zophar and the others were really widely known.

i. “All your boasted wisdom consists only in strings of proverbs which are in every person’s mouth, and are no proof of wisdom and experience in them that use them.” (Clarke)

ii. In response, Job will speak plainly about the wisdom and greatness of God. “I would we had another Job, to chastise the high-sounding language of modern theologians. There are starting up in our midst men, who if they are not heretics in doctrine, are aliens in speech.” (Spurgeon)

2. (4-6) Job’s complaint: “My friends mock and misunderstand me.”

“I am one mocked by his friends,
Who called on God, and He answered him,
The just and blameless who is ridiculed.
A lamp is despised in the thought of one who is at ease;
It is made ready for those whose feet slip.
The tents of robbers prosper,
And those who provoke God are secure;
In what God provides by His hand.”

a. I am one mocked by his friends: Job complained that even though he was a godly man (one who called on God, and He answered), a man who was just and blameless – even so, he was mocked and ridiculed.

i. The way that innocent Job was mocked by others reminds us of what Jesus endured in His sufferings and on the cross, when He was mocked by the soldiers who beat Him (Matthew 27:29), was mocked by the chief priests as He hung on the cross (Matthew 27:41), and was ridiculed by others (Mark 15:27-31).

b. A lamp is despised in the thought of one who is at ease: Job remembers what his life used to be like. He used to call on God and receive an answer, and in those bright days he didn’t feel like he needed a lamp, because his life was at ease. Now it is all different and his friends only mock and misunderstand him.

c. Those who provoke God are secure: Now, it seemed to Job that his life and prior understanding was upside-down. Before, everything seemed to make sense – the righteous seemed to be blessed and the wicked seemed to be afflicted. Now it is all different.

i. Job did not give up on God, but he had to give up on his prior understanding of God. “Job’s creed has crumbled into ruins, ‘therefore’, he says, ‘I leave my creed, but I deny that I have left God.’” (Chambers)

B. Job explains his understanding of God’s ways.

1. (7-12) All creation knows the power of God.

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?
Does not the ear test words
And the mouth taste its food?
Wisdom is with aged men,
And with length of days, understanding.”

a. Now ask the beasts, and they will teach you: Job here expands on the idea first made in Job 9:3: Indeed, who does not know such things as these? The point is that what his friends say about God is so elementary that even the animals know it.

i. “If you want to know the ways of the Lord, says Job, just look around you. You can theologize all you want, but if your theories do not mesh with the nature of things as they are, then what good are such theories? Even a dog has more knowledge of God than you do!” (Mason)

ii. That the hand of the LORD has done this: “It is always pointed out that verse 9 is the only place in the poetry where the name Yahweh is used for God. For this reason its authenticity has been doubted by many. Its removal in the interests of a theory that this word distinguishes a prose original from poetic additions is a circle of reasoning. Viewed in a different light, the word acquired enormous importance because its rarity makes it so conspicuous.” (Andersen)

b. Does not the ear test words: In these few verses Job recites a truisms; statements that are understood as obviously true. The idea is that as clearly as these things are true, so is the power and majesty of God also easily understood as true.

i. “There is no appeal from the verdict of our palate. We know in a moment whether a substance is sweet or bitter, palatable or disagreeable. Now what the taste is to articles of diet, that the ear is to words, whether of God or man.” (Meyer)

2. (13-25) Job describes the great power of God.

“With Him are wisdom and strength,
He has counsel and understanding.
If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt;
If He imprisons a man, there can be no release.
If He withholds the waters, they dry up;
If He sends them out, they overwhelm the earth.
With Him are strength and prudence.
The deceived and the deceiver are His.
He leads counselors away plundered,
And makes fools of the judges.
He loosens the bonds of kings,
And binds their waist with a belt.
He leads princes away plundered,
And overthrows the mighty.
He deprives the trusted ones of speech,
And takes away the discernment of the elders.
He pours contempt on princes,
And disarms the mighty.
He uncovers deep things out of darkness,
And brings the shadow of death to light.
He makes nations great, and destroys them;
He enlarges nations, and guides them.
He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth,
And makes them wander in a pathless wilderness.
They grope in the dark without light,
And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.”

a. With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding: In this section, Job rebuked the previous speech of Zophar (Job 11), especially where Zophar criticized Job for not knowing God and likened him to an empty-headed man (Job 11:7-12). Here Job showed that he did indeed know that God was great in wisdom and strength, and that He was mighty in counsel and understanding.

i. Job’s message to his friends was clear: “I do know God and how great He is. Don’t criticize me on this point any longer.”

b. If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt: With wonderful poetic beauty and repetition, Job described the power and majesty of God.

· He showed God’s power over material things (If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt). “He alone can create, and he alone can destroy. Nothing can be annihilated but by the same Power that created it. This is a most remarkable fact. No power, skill, or cunning of man can annihilate the smallest particle of matter. Man, by chemical agency, may change its form; but to reduce it to nothing belongs to God alone.” (Clarke)
· He showed God’s power over men (If He imprisons a man).
· He showed God’s power over minds (The deceived and the deceiver are His).
· He showed God’s power over the wise (He leads counselors away plundered, and makes fools of the judges).
· He showed God’s power over rulers (He loosens the bonds of kings . . . He leads princes away plundered).
· He showed God’s power over the eloquent (He deprives the trusted ones of speech).
· He showed God’s power over the darkness (brings the shadow of death to light).
· He showed God’s power over the nations (He makes nations great, and destroys them).

i. “This may be a mockery of the lopsidedness of Eliphaz’s creedal hymn in Job 5:18-26, where everything good happens to the righteous. It is hardly a parody on God’s wisdom since in the introduction to the poem (Job 12:13) Job ascribed wisdom to God in conjunction with his purpose and understanding.” (Smick)

ii. Disarms the mighty is more literally in the Hebrew, loosens the belt of the mighty. “Which is the idiom for depriving of strength, because it disables the wearer for the contest by letting the garments fly loose, and thus hindering the necessary movement for the putting forth of strength.” (Bullinger)

c. He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth: Here Job extended his description of the power of God to the idea of God’s ability to take away the understanding of even great men. When He does this, they grope in the dark without light.

i. This shows how easy it is for God to make men wander in the pathless wilderness or stagger like a drunken man. All He must do is merely take away understanding, showing that the wisdom and understanding of man is dependent upon God.

ii. We sense that Job actually described himself, as this prominent man without understanding, a man wandering in a pathless wilderness, a man groping in the dark without light, and who staggered like a drunken man.

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Job 11 – The First Speech of Zophar


Job 11 – The First Speech of Zophar

A. Zophar criticizes Job for his complaining.

1. (1-6) Zophar tells Job that he actually deserves far worse from God.

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:
“Should not the multitude of words be answered?
And should a man full of talk be vindicated?
Should your empty talk make men hold their peace?
And when you mock, should no one rebuke you?
For you have said,
‘My doctrine is pure,
And I am clean in your eyes.’
But oh, that God would speak,
And open His lips against you,
That He would show you the secrets of wisdom!
For they would double your prudence.
Know therefore that God exacts from you
Less than your iniquity deserves.”

a. Zophar the Naamathite: This friend of Job’s speaks the least of them all (only here and in Job 20), but perhaps he speaks the most arrogantly and confrontationally to Job. “Zophar was a severe man. Like Bildad he lacked compassion and was ruthlessly judgmental.” (Smick)

i. “He is the most inveterate of Job’s accusers, and generally speaks without feeling or pity. In sour godliness he excelled all the rest. This chapter and the twentieth comprehends all that he said. He was too crooked to speak much in measured verse.” (Clarke)

b. Should a man full of talk be vindicated? Zophar had enough of Job’s protests to innocence. In his mind, all of Job’s eloquent complaining shows him to be nothing more than a man full of talk, one who should not be vindicated. Therefore, Zophar will continue with a rebuke of Job (when you mock, should no one rebuke you?).

i. We sense that Job’s friends are losing patience with him. In a remarkable display of friendship they sat with him for seven silent days (Job 2:13). They only spoke in response to Job’s agonizing as recorded in Job chapter 3. Then they tried to help Job see that it must be some sin on his part that has prompted this great calamity in his life, but Job refused to see it. The more they insisted and the more Job stubbornly denied it, the more frustrated they became.

ii. “Clearly the discussion is heating up. It may be in Zophar’s nature to be caustic and abrupt, or it may just be that things have reached such an impasse that all the friends are now prepared to level direct accusations at Job.” (Mason)

iii. “Job’s bewilderment and his outbursts are natural; in them we find his humanity, and our own. Zophar detaches the words from the man, and hears them only as babble and mockery.” (Andersen)

c. For you have said, “My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in your eyes”: Zophar did not truthfully represent Job’s words here. Job did not claim to be pure and clean, as if he were sinless and perfect; but in fairness to Zophar, we must say that Job claimed to be in the right and this was virtually a claim to be pure and clean in this matter.

i. Job knew there was no special or specific sin on his part behind the loss of his children, his health, his servants, and his material wealth (Job 7:20). Even so, Job knew that he was a sinner in a general sense and could not be considered righteous compared to God.

· Therefore my words have been rash (Job 6:3)
· Why then do You not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? (Job 7:21)
· How can a man be righteous before God? (Job 9:2)
· Though I were righteous, my own mouth would condemn me; though I were blameless, it would prove me perverse. (Job 19:20)
· I know that You will not hold me innocent (Job 9:28)

ii. Therefore, we understand Job’s claims to be blameless (Job 9:21-22) to refer to the fact that there was indeed no special or particular sin on his part that prompted his great suffering. Indeed, even God recognized Job as blameless in this sense (Job 1:1, 1:8, and 2:3).

d. Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves: In the thinking of Zophar, not only was Job wrong to claim to be either pure or clean, he was actually so guilty before God to deserve far worse than he had suffered.

i. Zophar here sounds like a man who has carefully studied a particular theological idea (especially in Reformed Theology) known as total depravity. In this idea, the sinfulness of man – both inherited from Adam and actually practiced by the individual – is so great that one could say regarding every suffering of life, “know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves.”

ii. Bradley captures the idea of Zophar: “ ‘So far from being unjust and cruel, God has spared thee the full measure of thy deserts.’ He puts forward, that is, for the first time in its naked force, the full and logical conclusion of the creed which he and his friends held as an essential tenet of their faith.”

iii. Unfortunately, Zophar is among the miserable comforters (Job 16:2) who were actually quite wrong in their analysis and advice (Job 42:7). Whatever the merits of the theological idea of total depravity, it did not speak to Job’s circumstance at all.

2. (7-12) Zophar teaches Job theology.

“Can you search out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than heaven; what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol; what can you know?
Their measure is longer than the earth
And broader than the sea.”

“If He passes by, imprisons, and gathers to judgment,
Then who can hinder Him?
For He knows deceitful men;
He sees wickedness also.
Will He not then consider it?
For an empty-headed man will be wise,
When a wild donkey’s colt is born a man.”

a. Can you search out the deep things of God? After instructing Job in the doctrine of total depravity, Zophar went on to teach Job about the transcendence of God. Therefore, in Zophar’s thinking, Job was wrong to question God.

b. Who can hinder him? The next lesson in Zophar’s theology was the sovereignty of God. Zophar believed that the best thing Job could do was to accept his punishment from God instead of protesting the injustice of it. In Zophar’s mind, Job’s punishment was just and God was actually giving Job less than he deserved.

c. He knows deceitful men; he sees wickedness also. Will He not then consider it? Zophar here implied that what Job wanted was for God to turn His head aside from justice. Zophar wanted Job to know that it was wrong – and wicked – to wish that God would not consider the deceit and wickedness of man; in this case, Job’s deceit and wickedness.

d. For an empty-headed man will be wise, when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man: Here, Zophar simply called Job stupid. He associated him with the empty-headed man, who will be wise as soon as wild donkeys start giving birth to human beings.

i. “The sharpness of his sarcasm is demonstrated in Job 11:12. Zophar labeled Job a witless, empty-headed man with as much chance to become wise as a wild donkey has to be born tame.” (Smick)

ii. For Zophar – as with others who share his basic theological perspective – there was no mystery in Job’s situation at all. God was sovereign, God was just, Job was a sinner, and therefore he should be thankful that he wasn’t worse off.

iii. Bradley captures the idea of Zophar well: “Wherever there is suffering, there is sin, real and tangible sin, proportioned to that suffering. God governs the world by rewards and punishments, and those rewards and punishments are distributed here below with an unerring justice. It follows therefore that this Job, this seeming Saint, is really a man full of heinous sin.”

B. Zophar’s advice to Job.

1. (13-19) Zophar calls upon Job to repent.

“If you would prepare your heart,
And stretch out your hands toward Him;
If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away,
And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents;
Then surely you could lift up your face without spot;
Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear;
Because you would forget your misery,
And remember it as waters that have passed away,
And your life would be brighter than noonday.
Though you were dark, you would be like the morning.
And you would be secure, because there is hope;
Yes, you would dig around you, and take your rest in safety.
You would also lie down, and no one would make you afraid;
Yes, many would court your favor.”

a. If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away: Given Zophar’s theological understanding of Job’s situation, the answer is easy. Job should simply repent and seek the mercy and goodness of God.

i. Trapp on stretch out your hands toward Him: “Hebrew, And spread thy palms to him: so in prayer for pardon of sin and power against sin; for this prayer-gesture, wherein God’s people come for mercy, as beggars do an alms; or as me beg quarter for their lives with hands held up; or, lastly, as he that is fallen into a ditch, or deep pit, and cannot get out, lifteth up his hands and crieth out for help.”

b. Because you would forget your misery, and remember it as waters that have passed away: This is what Job longed for; to be so restored and blessed again that he would forget all this ever happened to him. Zophar said – falsely – that this could be Job’s portion if he would only repent of the great sins that brought this disaster upon him.

i. Though Zophar was wrong in understanding the cause, he did know what the cure would look like – to be able to forget your misery, and remember it as the waters that have passed away.

ii. “We seem to lie all broken in pieces, with our thoughts like a case of knives cutting into our spirit; and we say to ourselves, ‘We never shall forget this terrible experience.’ And yet, by-and-by, God turns towards us the palm of his hand, and we see that it is full of mercy, we are restored to health, or uplifted from depression of spirit, and we wonder that we ever made so much of our former suffering or depression.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “We remember it no more, except as a thing that has passed and gone, to be recollected with gratitude that we have been delivered from it, but not to be remembered so as to leave any scar upon our spirit, or to cause us any painful reflection whatsoever. ‘Thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away.’” (Spurgeon)

c. Your life would be brighter than noonday . . . no one would make you afraid; yes, many would court your favor: Zophar encouraged Job to confess and repent of his sin by showing him how God would bless and honor him, restoring him to a bright, confident, admired life once again.

2. (20) Zophar warns and rebukes Job.

“But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
And they shall not escape,
And their hope; loss of life!”

a. The eyes of the wicked will fail, and they shall not escape: Zophar here encouraged Job to confess and repent by warning him of the consequences if he did not. Surely, he would not escape a greater display of God’s displeasure.

b. Their hope; loss of life! Zophar here rebuked Job’s prior frustrated preference for death instead of his present miserable state (Job 3:16-17; 6:8-9). He associated Job with the wicked whose eyes shall fail and who shall not escape.

i. There is indeed much to admire in the theology and philosophy of Zophar and Job’s friends. They say much that is generally true and valuable, and it is – in general – backed by the wisdom of the ancients. They believed in God’s power and His absolute righteousness. They also believed that God would forgive a sinner and take him back into favor if the sinner responded correctly to the punishment God appointed.

ii. Nevertheless, the application of this creed – these deeply held believes about how life and God and the universe work – was completely wrong in Job’s situation. The reasons for his calamity were completely out of the conception of Job’s friends, though they were confident that they understood the situation completely.

iii. “They misapplied the most precious truths and the most edifying of doctrines; turned wholesome food to poison; pressed upon their friend those half-truths, which are sometimes the worst of untruths.” (Bradley)

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Job 10 – What Job Would Say to God


Job 10 – What Job Would Say to God

A. What Job would say to God if he could.

1. (1-7) Job would ask God, “Why are You doing this?”

“My soul loathes my life;
I will give free course to my complaint,
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me;
Show me why You contend with me.
Does it seem good to You that You should oppress,
That You should despise the work of Your hands,
And smile on the counsel of the wicked?
Do You have eyes of flesh?
Or do You see as man sees?
Are Your days like the days of a mortal man?
Are Your years like the days of a mighty man,
That You should seek for my iniquity
And search out my sin,
Although You know that I am not wicked,
And there is no one who can deliver from Your hand?

a. I will give free course to my complaint: It seems that Job believed that he had not yet begun to complain. He will, in the bitterness of his soul, say what he would say to God if given the chance.

i. “Such a poem is called a complaint, a moaning appeal to God’s compassion. The parallel phrase the bitterness of my soul describes misery, but not sourness.” (Anderson)

b. Do not condemn me; show me why You contend with me: Job would say to God, “Put your cards out on the table. Make your case against me to show why I deserve this disaster in my life.”

i. “The meaning of [do not condemn me] is literally ‘treat a person as wicked.’ That was Job’s problem with God. It appeared to him that the Almighty was giving him what a wicked man deserved when he knew Job was not a wicked man.” (Smick)

ii. “This Job desired to know, not to satisfy his curiosity, but his conscience, as one well observeth.” (Trapp)

iii. “It is a remarkable fact, apparently unobserved by commentators, but very revealing of Job’s mind, that in none of his petitions does he make the obvious request for his sickness to be cured. As if everything will be all right when he is well again! That would not answer the question which is more urgent than every other concern: ‘Why?’” (Anderson)

iv. The tried saint may ask as Job did, “Show me why You contend with me.” Spurgeon suggested several answers:

· It may be that God is contending with you to show you His power to uphold you.
· It may be that God is contending with you go develop your graces.
· It may be that God is contending with you because you have some secret sin that is doing you great damage.
· It may be that God is contending with you because He wants you to enter the fellowship of His sufferings.
· It may be that God is contending with you to humble you.

v. The seeking sinner might also ask as Job did, “Show me why You contend with me.” Spurgeon suggested several answers to the seeking sinner:

· It may be that God is contending with you because you are not yet thoroughly awakened to your lost condition.
· It may be that God is contending with you in order to test your earnestness.
· It may be that God is contending with you because you are harboring one sin that you will not turn over to Him.
· It may be that God is contending with you because you do not yet thoroughly understand the plan of salvation.

vi. Though it was not the case with Job, it is true that God often contends with both saints and sinners to deal with their sin. “Trials often discover sins — sins we should never have found out if it had not been for them. We know that the houses in Russia are very greatly infested with rats and mice. Perhaps a stranger would scarcely notice them at first, but the time when you discover them is when the house is on fire; then they pour out in multitudes. And so doth God sometimes burn up our comforts to make our hidden sins run out; and then he enables us to knock them on the head and get rid of them.” (Spurgeon)

c. Does it seem good to You that You should oppress, that You should despise the work of your hands: Job vented more and more to God. “Does this make you happy? I am the work of your hands, and look at how you are treating me!”

d. Do You have eyes of flesh? Or do you see as man sees? Job clearly knew that God was not limited in His vision as humans are; yet by the facts Job had seen and experienced, it seemed like God saw him with the same shallow and superficial vision that his friends used.

e. Although You know that I am not wicked: Job appealed to God’s knowledge of Job and his character. Of course, God agreed with Job’s self-estimation, even saying that Job was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).

i. “A sinner I am, but I allow not, wallow not in any known sin; there is no way of wickedness found in me; hypocrisy reigns not in my heart.” (Trapp)

ii. Yet Job’s present distress twisted his perception of God, to the point where he could not see what could only be seen by the eye of faith that goes beyond the sight of present circumstances.

2. (8-12) Job would ask, “I am Your creation: Why do You afflict me?”

“ ‘Your hands have made me and fashioned me,
An intricate unity;
Yet You would destroy me.
Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay.
And will You turn me into dust again?
Did you not pour me out like milk,
And curdle me like cheese,
Clothe me with skin and flesh,
And knit me together with bones and sinews?
You have granted me life and favor,
And Your care has preserved my spirit.’ ”

a. Your hands have made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity: Job was a smart scientist and knew that God was the author of creation and specifically of mankind. He had the same understanding as the Psalmist who said, I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well (Psalm 139:14).

i. In mentioning You have made me like clay and will You turn me into dust again Job even seemed to understand that mankind came from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7).

ii. In wonderful poetry, Job illustrated the fashioning of his body by three pictures:

· Man is like a vessel of clay, shaped by a potter (Job 10:9).
· Man is like a cheese, poured out by a cheese maker (Job 10:10).
· Man is like a garment, woven by a weaver (Job 10:11).

iii. Perhaps the most interesting among these three is the idea of man being like a cheese. Some commentators see this as reference to man’s humble state: “Man is a very mean thing in his first conception, modestly here set forth by the making of cheeses.” (Trapp) Yet other commentators see a reference here to the act of conception: “Thus he modestly and accurately describes God’s admirable work in making man out of a small and liquid, and as it were milky, substance, by degrees congealed and condensed into that exquisite frame of man’s body.” (Poole) In fact, Adam Clarke explained the meaning of Job 10:10 only in Latin because he felt so awkward with the subject matter; after his explanation he wrote, “I make no apology for leaving this untranslated.”

b. Yet You would destroy me: Job knew that God created him; now he felt that God wanted to destroy him. What Job did not know is that God had strictly forbade this calamity to end in death (Job 2:6). We can sympathize with what Job felt, and we understand that he could not know this. Yet we also know the truth from the heavenly scene behind the earthly scene.

i. “In creation first, and now in Job’s recent disasters, the might of God is seen. That God Himself did it all is indisputable. Job does not question God’s right to do it. But God’s reasons for His actions Job cannot detect. Why should He create only to destroy?” (Anderson)

c. You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit: Job could not deny God’s past work in his life as creator and as preserver; yet all that made things more problematic, not less. The depth of his experience told him, “Why has the same God who created me and preserved me now so obviously abandoned me?”

i. Job 10:18-12 would seem to argue against the sometimes Reformed or Calvinistic idea that God created man and – at least for the vast majority of those not elect for salvation – immediately destined these intricately, wonderfully designed and fashioned creatures for eternal damnation. This seems to be a strange and offensive idea to Job, especially considering the care lavished upon these creatures after their glorious creation (You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit).

ii. In Job 10:12, Job actually thanked God for three wonderful things:

· Life (You have granted me life)
· Divine Favor (You have granted me . . . favor)
· Divine Visitation (Your care has preserved my spirit)

B. Job’s agonized question: “Why, God?”

1. (13-17) Job asks God to reveal a sinful cause within Job himself.

And these things You have hidden in Your heart;
I know that this was with You:
If I sin, then You mark me,
And will not acquit me of my iniquity.
If I am wicked, woe to me;
Even if I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head.
I am full of disgrace;
See my misery!
If my head is exalted,
You hunt me like a fierce lion,
And again You show Yourself awesome against me.
You renew Your witnesses against me,
And increase Your indignation toward me;
Changes and war are ever with me.

a. These things You have hidden in Your heart; I know that this was with You: Job begins to touch on the core of the problem that stirred inside of him. He knew that God knew all the causes and answers for Job’s condition; yet God did not tell Job.

i. Again, because of Job 1 and 2, we are in the curious position of knowing what Job did not know. The causes and intentions of Job’s present calamity were hidden in God and were hidden to Job, but God has shared with the reader of the Book of Job what Job himself did not know.

ii. It is easy to read the Book of Job assuming that Job himself knew what happened in the heavenly realms as recorded in the first two chapters of the book. The reader of the Book of Job must resist this assumption and instead empathize with Job, knowing that it was just as difficult for him to comprehend the workings of the spiritual realm as it is for us.

b. If I am wicked, woe to me: Job’s friends insisted that the disasters of his life came upon him because of some particular iniquity or wickedness within him. Job protested that this was not the case; and here he again states the thought.

i. I am full of disgrace; see my misery! “I have abundance of shame in the disappointment of all my hopes, and the continuance and aggravation of my misery, notwithstanding all my prayers to God to remove or mitigate it; and I am confounded within myself, not knowing what to say or do. Let my extremity move thee to pity and help me.” (Poole)

c. You hunt me like a fierce lion, and again You show Yourself awesome against me: Job felt as though God were no help to him at all in his present distress. Instead, he felt as though he were prey for God, who came against him like a fierce lion.

i. “As the hunters attack the king of beasts in the forest, so my friends attack me. They assail me on every side.” (Clarke)

d. Changes and war are ever with me: “It is literally ‘changes and a host are with me’ (RSV mg.). If the first phrase means ‘relieving troops’ (Rowley) or ‘fresh forces’ (NEB), then this resembles and illustrates the statement in verse 16b that God is full of surprises and His resources are limitless.” (Anderson)

i. “I am as if attacked by successive troops; one company being wearied, another succeeds to the attack, so that I am harassed by continual warfare.” (Clarke)

2. (18-22) Job asks God to leave him alone.

‘Why then have You brought me out of the womb?
Oh, that I had perished and no eye had seen me!
I would have been as though I had not been.
I would have been carried from the womb to the grave.
Are not my days few?
Cease! Leave me alone, that I may take a little comfort,
Before I go to the place from which I shall not return,
To the land of darkness and the shadow of death,
A land as dark as darkness itself,
As the shadow of death, without any order,
Where even the light is like darkness.’“

a. Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Job here returned to a theme first found in Job 3. He felt that it would be better if he had never been born.

i. It is important to say that Job was not suicidal, but his wish that he had never been born is something like a wish for suicide. Job felt these almost suicidal thoughts because he could not see any sense in His suffering. His friends saw sense (Job suffered because he has sinned, and this is his proper correction), but Job knew they were wrong. We see sense because we know what Job did not know from the first two chapters of the book. Even though Job could not see it, it was real nonetheless.

ii. It would have completely changed Job’s situation if he could see by faith the invisible, or at least comfort himself in the understanding that there were invisible dynamics in heavenly places that made sense of his situation.

b. Cease! Leave me alone: At this point in the story, Job would simply prefer that God would leave him alone. He did not recognize that it was only because God did not leave him alone that he had endured this far and was not completely destroyed by either the devil or despair.

i. In asking “Are not my days few?” Job reflected on how fast his life seemed to pass. “My life is short, and of itself hastens apace to an end; there is no need that thou shouldst push it forward.” (Poole)

ii. “As we read it we feel that the suggestions which Job made about God were entirely wrong: but we remember that they were not wicked, because they were honest.” (Morgan)

iii. “Job will not accept anything that contradicts the facts he knows; he is not splenetic, he does not say God is cruel, he simply states the facts – ‘It looks as though God is rejecting me without any reason, all the facts go to prove this and I am not going to blink them.’” (Chambers)

c. To the land of darkness and shadow of death: The Book of Job well reflects the difficult apprehension of the truth of the afterlife in the Old Testament. Statements of murky, near-despair like this are combined with occasional declarations of triumphant, confident faith (as in Job 19:25, I know that my Redeemer lives . . . and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God).

i. “He piles up a heap of gloomy terms, including four different words for darkness, to indicate how dreary Sheol is.” (Anderson)

ii. “Finally he resorts to using no less than four different Hebrew words for ‘darkness,’ translated variously as ‘midnight black,’ ‘the shadow of death,’ ‘the land of murk and chaos,’ ‘where confusion reigns,’ ‘where light itself is like the dead of night,’ and so on. Job masses these words together, piling one on top of another for a cumulative effect as solemn and impressive as anything in Shakespeare.” (Mason)

iii. “The shadow is the dark part of the thing, so that the shadow of death is the darkest side of death, death in its most hideous and horrid representations; the shadow of death is the substance of death, or death with addition of greatest deadliness.” (Trapp)

iv. Adam Clarke tried to explain the futile and frustrated sense in Job and other Old Testament writers: “But what is THIS? And where? Eternity! How can I form any conception of thee? In thee there is no order, no bounds, no substance, no progression, no change, no past, no present, no future! Thou are an indescribable something, to which there is no analogy in the compass of creation. Thou are infinity and incomprehensibility to all finite beings.”

v. This cloudy understanding of the afterlife in the Old Testament does not surprise the reader of the New Testament, who knows that Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light (2 Timothy 1:10).

vi. “This represented the highest thinking of that age about the future. There were gleams now and again of something more; but they were fitful and uncertain, soon overtaken by dark and sad forebodings. . . . The patriarch called the present life Day and the future Night. We know that in comparison the present is Night, and the future Day.” (Meyer)

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