Job, in answer to Bildad, admits the truth of his arguments,
but declines to attempt the justification which can alone entitle him to
accept the favorable side of Bildad’s alternative. Man cannot absolutely
justify himself before God. It is in vain to attempt to do so. The contest is
too unequal. On the one side perfect wisdom and absolute strength (v.4);
on the other, weakness, imperfection, ignorance. guilt (vs. 17-20).
And no “daysman,” or umpire, between them; no third party to hold the
balance even, and preside authoritatively over the controversy, and see that
justice is done (vs. 33-35). Were it otherwise, Job would not shrink from
the controversy; but he thinks it ill arguing with OMNIPOTENT POWER.
What he seems to lack is the absolute conviction expressed by Abraham in the
emphatic words ” Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
1 “Then Job answered and said, 2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should
man be just with God?” And Job answered and said, I know it is so of a truth.
“I freely admit,” i.e., “all that has been said.” God would not cast away a perfectly
righteous man (ch. 8:20); and, of course, He punishes evildoers. But, applied
practically, what is the result? How should man be just with God? or, before
God? Apart from any knowledge of the doctrine of original or inherited sin,
each man feels, deep in his heart, that he is sinful — “a chief of sinners.”
the grace of God, there goes John Bradford!” Job has a similar conviction, that
in the sight of God, righteousness, such as it is, shrinks away into insignificance,
and is as nothing, cannot anyhow be relied upon. Such must be the attitude before
God of every human soul that is not puffed up with pride or utterly insensate and
sunk in apathy.
3 “If he will contend with Him, he cannot answer Him one of a
thousand.” If He will contend with him; rather, if he should desire to
contend with him; i.e. if, notwithstanding his knowledge of his own
weakness and guilt, he should nevertheless be mad enough to desire to
contend with God, then he will find that he cannot answer Him one of a
thousand. Of the charges which God might in His omniscience bring
against him, he could not make a satisfactory reply to one in a thousand. It
is not that Job admits any special guilt in himself; but such he feels to be
the universal condition of humanity. “All have sinned (in ten thousand
ways), “and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
4 “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened
himself against Him, and hath prospered?” He is wise in heart, and
mighty in strength. The sense is strengthened if we omit “He is,” and render,
Wise in heart, and mighty in strength, who hath hardened’ etc.? God’s
combination of PERFECT WISDOM with INFINITE STRENGTH,
renders it hopeless for any man to contend with Him. Who hath hardened
himself against Him; and hath prospered? Job fully admits the wisdom of
all that Eliphaz (ch. 4:17) and Bildad (ch. 8:3-6) have said, or hinted, with
respect to his inability wholly to justify himself. No one has ever taken this
line of absolute self-justification, and prospered.
Note: It becomes good men to acknowledge and confide in the righteousness
of God. The higher man’s ideas rise of God s holiness and equity,
the lower fall his thoughts concerning his own impurity and iniquity.
As there can be no unrighteousness with God, so neither can there be
any righteousness with man. Though it is hopeless to contend with God in
argument, it is not so to wrestle with Him in prayer. The best attitude for
a frail and sinful man to assume before God is that of self-abasement and
penitence. Man’s ignorance and weakness are no match for God’s wisdom
and might. God’s wisdom and might have, FOR MAN’S ADVANTAGE,
BEEN DEPOSITED IN CHRIST, WHO IS THE POWER OF GOD
AND THE WISDOM OF GOD! (I Corinthians 1:24)
A Gospel Outline (vs. 1-4)
Ø Permitting sin. (Psalm 92:5.)
Ø Afflicting man. (Deuteronomy 8:5.)
Ø Saving the penitent. (Romans 3:26; I John 1:9.)
Ø Punishing the wicked. (Romans 3:5; II Thessalonians 1:6.)
· A MELANCHOLY FACT. It is impossible for man to establish his
righteousness before God (v. 2), his guiltiness being:
Ø Declared by Scripture. (Psalm 143:2; Proverbs 20:9;
Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:19, 23.)
Ø Attested by conscience. (Romans 2:15.)
Ø Confirmed by experience. (Psalm 58:3; Ephesians 4:17-18;
answer God’s accusations against him (v. 3), in respect of either:
Ø their numbers, man’s sins being as numerous as the hairs of his head
(Psalm 40:12); or
Ø their character, being infinitely heinous in the sight of God
(Proverbs 15:9; Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 44:4); or
Ø their proof, the evidence in support of God’s charges being clear and
overwhelming (Genesis 18:21; Jeremiah 17:10).
to God (v. 4).
Ø Nothing but hurt can arise from braving and opposing God (Isaiah
Ø Certain salvation springs from humble submission to God
(ch. 33:27; Psalm 76:9; Isaiah 27:5 ).
From vs. 5-13, we have a magnificent description of the might and majesty
of God, transcending anything in the Psalms, and comparable to the grandest
passages of Isaiah (see especially Isaiah 40:21-24; 43:15-20).
5 “Which removeth the mountains, and they know not; which
overturneth them in His anger.” Earthquakes are common in all the
the most striking manifestations of God’s power. There are several
allusions to them in the Psalms (Psalm 104:32; 144:5) and historical
mention of them in Numbers 16:32; I Kings 19:11; Amos 1:1; Zechariah 14:4-5;
Matthew 24:7. Josephus speaks of one which desolated
Herod the Great, and destroyed ten thousand people (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 15:5. § 2).
There was another in 1181, which was felt over the whole of the Hauran, and
did great damage. A still more violent convulsion occurred in 1837, when the
area affected extended five hundred miles from north to south, and from eighty
to a hundred miles east and west. Tiberias and Safed were overthrown. The
earth gaped in various places, and closed again. Fearful oscillations were felt.
thermometers could not mark, and the loss of life was considerable (see the
account given by Dr. Cunningham Geikie, in ‘The
vol. 2. pp. 317, 318). The phrases used by Job are, of course, poetical.
Earthquakes do not literally “remove” mountains, nor “overturn” them.
They produce fissures, elevations, depressions, and the like; but they rarely
much alter local features or the general configuration of a district.
6 “Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof
tremble.” Which shaketh the earth out of her place. This is a still more
startling figure of speech; but compare Psalm 46:2; 68:16; 114:4, 6. And
the pillars thereof tremble. The earth is conceived of, poetically, as a
huge edifice, supported on pillars (compare Psalm 75:3), which in an
earthquake are shaken, and impart their motion to the entire building.
7 “Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the
stars.” Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not. A magnificent
idea of God’s power, and, of course, quite true. All the movements of the
earth and of the heavenly bodies are movements which God causes, and
could at any moment suspend. The sun only rises upon the earth each day
because God causes it to rise. If he were once to intermit His hand, THE
WHOLE UNIVERSE WOULD FALL INTO CONFUSION.
And sealeth up the stars. Either covers them with a thick darkness, which
their rays cannot penetrate, or otherwise renders them invisible. The idea is
that God, if He pleases, can remove the stars out of man’s sight, hide them away,
seal them up. (I recommend “Fantastic Trip” on You Tube – CY – 2013).
8 “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the
waves of the sea.” Which alone spreadeth out the heavens (compare
Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22). The heavens are regarded as spread out over the
whole earth, like a curtain or awning over a tent, everywhere
overshadowing and promoting it. This “stretching” or “spreading out” is
felt to be one of the mightiest and most marvelous of the Creater’s works,
and is constantly put forward in Scripture as a special evidence of HIS
OMNIPOTENCE! (see, besides the passages above quoted, Isaiah 42:5;
44:24; 45:12; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12). It adds to the marvelousness
that God did it all “alone,” or “by Himself” (Isaiah 44:24). And
treadeth upon the waves of the sea; literally, the heights of the sea; i.e.
the waves, which run mountains-high. God plants His feet upon these, to
crush them in their proud might (compare Psalm 93:4).
9 “Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of
the south.” Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades; literally,
which maketh ‘Ash’ Kesil’ and Kimah. The rendering of the Septuagint (oJ
poiw~n Pleia>da kai< [Esperon kai< jArktou~ron – ho poion Pleiada
kai Esperon kai Arktouron -), supported, as it is, by most of the other ancient
versions and by the Targums, has caused the stellar character of these names
to be generally recognized; but the exact meaning of each term is, to some extent,
still a matter of dispute. On the whole, it seems most probable that ‘Ash’ or ‘Aish
(ch.38:32), designates “the Great Bear,” called by the Arabs Nahsh’ while Kesil is
the name of the constellation of Orion, and Kimah of that of the Pleiades. The
word ‘Ash means “a litter,” and may be compared with the Greek a[maxa –
hamaza and our own “Charles’s Wain,” both of them names given to the Great
Bear, from a fancied resemblance of its form to that of a vehicle. Kesil
means “an insolent, rich man” (Lee); and is often translated by “fool” in the
Book of Proverbs 14:16; 15:20; 19:1; 21:20, etc. It seems to have been
an epitheton usitatum of Nimrod, who, according to Oriental tradition,
made war upon the gods, and was bound in the sky for his impiety — the
constellation being thenceforth called “the Giant” (Gibbor)’ or “the
insolent one’ (Kesil), and later by the Greeks “Orion” (compare Amos
5:8; and infra’ ch.38:31). Kimah undoubtedly designates “the
Pleiades.” It occurs again, in connection with Kesil’ in (Ibid.), and
in Amos 5:8 The meaning is probably “a heap,” “a cluster” (Lee);
which was also the Greek idea: Pleia>dev, o[ti plei>ouv oJmoou~ kata<
mi>an sunagwgh>n’ (Eustath., ‘Comment. in Hom. II.,’ 18:488); and which
has been also inimitably expressed by Tennyson in the line, “Like a swarm
of dazzling fireflies tangled in a silver braid.” And the chambers of the
south. The Chaldeans called the zodiacal constellations “mansions of the
sun” and “of the moon” (‘Ancient Monarchies,’ vol. it. p. 575); but these
do not seem to be here intended. Rather Job has in his mind those immense
spaces of the sky which lie behind his southern horizon; how far extending,
he knows not. Though the circumnavigation of
until about B.C. 600, yet it is not improbable that he may have derived from
travelers or merchants some knowledge of the Southern hemisphere.
10 “Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders
without number.” An almost exact repetition of the words of Eliphaz in
ch. 5:9. The repetition may have been conscious or unconscious. Job
may have meant to say, “My view of God embraces all that you can tell me
of Him, and goes further;” or he may simply have used words concerning
the Divine unsearchableness which were common in the mouths of
religious men in his time (compare Psalm 72:18; and here, ch.11:7).
Note: There is no God like unto the God of the Christian (Exodus 15:11;
Deuteronomy 33:26. Nothing can transcend the power of God (Genesis 18:14;
Jeremiah 32:17). God is infinitely worthy of the reverence, confidence, affection,
and obedience of His intelligent creatures (Psalm 89:7;Revelation 4:11).
It cannot but be dangerous to resist God’s will (Nahum 1:6; Isaiah 40:24;
Hebrews 12:29). “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Psalm 27:1;
The Majesty of God Depicted (vs. 5-10)
· IN TERRESTRIAL PHENOMENA.
Ø Overturning mountains. “Which removeth,” i.e.. uprooteth or
overtumeth, “the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them
in His anger” (v. 5). Whatever be the allusion intended, whether to the
convulsions of nature which occurred at the Flood, or to those usually
associated with earthquakes, the language suggests the absoluteness of
God’s control over nature, and in particular:
o The greatness of His power, which, being able to uproot and
overthrow mighty hills through its resistless force, must be
competent to do the most stupendous works — must, in fact,
be an agency to which there can be no impossibilities. The only
power resembling it on earth is that of faith (Mark 9:23),
to which also is ascribed the ability to remove mountains
o The suddenness of His power, the mountains being represented as
overturned unexpectedly, in a moment, “without their knowing,”
which again reflects upon the vastness of that power which can
effect so gigantic a feat without effort and without labor, so
easily and naturally (“He toucheth the hills, and they smoke”-
Psalm 104:32) that it is done instantaneously.
o The fierceness of his power, especially when it is put forth in
judgment, the uprooting of the mountains being depicted as a
terrible manifestation of the Almighty’s wrath, concerning which
the overturned hills seem to say,“Who can stand before His
indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?
His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown
down by Him” (Nahum 1:6; compare Habakkuk 3:6).
Ø Convulsing the earth. “Which shaketh the earth out of her place,
and the pillars,” i.e. the internal foundations, “thereof tremble” (v. 6).
Nothing is more seemingly stable than the solid globe (Psalm 119:90).
Its original establishment was a sublime witness to THE POWER AND
WISDOM OF ITS CREATOR (I Samuel 2:8; Psalm 24:1-2; 136:6;
Jeremiah 51:15). Yet, by the mysterious forces treasured up within its
dark retreats, THE ALMIGHTY CAN MAKE IT TREMBLE as if
about to be dissolved (Psalm 104:32; 114:7), as He did at Sinai
(Exodus 19:18; Psalm 68:8), and as ONCE AGAIN HE WILL DO
AT THE END OF TIME (Hebrews 1:10; II Peter 3:10). The
shaking of the earth is an emblem of Divine judgments (Isaiah
Ø Obscuring the sun. “Who commandeth the sun, and it riseth (or,
‘shineth’) not” (v. 7). Alluding to both natural and supernatural
obscurations of the solar light, of the former of which ordinary eclipses
may be taken as illustrations, while the Egyptian darkness will constitute a
sample of the latter.
o The sun is the most resplendent object in heaven. Here styled
cherem, probably from its brilliant appearance, or perhaps from
its heat-giving properties. As such it is a silent witness TO
THE GREAT POWER OF GOD (Genesis 1:16; Psalm 74:16;
136:7-8; Jeremiah 31:35).
o The sun is ever obedient to the will of its Creator. There is no
part of God’s universe that is not under law. The greatest suns
as well as the smallest atoms continually recognize His authority.
(I was very impressed with the Planetarium at the Creation
Trip on You Tube – CY – 2013). The orb of day is
equally obedient in rising and in setting (Ecclesiastes 1:5).
As such, it is an eloquent teacher of obedience to man
o The sun is never wearied of its beneficent mission to shine.
And it always shines, except when commanded not. As such,
it is a preacher of diligence to the Christian, who is
commanded to let his light shine (Matthew 5:16).
o When the sun is obscured or commanded not to shine, it
is in judgment on the sins of man (Joel 2:31; Amos 8:9;
Luke 21:25; Acts 2:20), as during the Egyptian darkness
(Exodus 10:22) and at the time of the Crucifixion (Matthew
27:45). The darkened sun is an impressive and instructive
emblem of the judgments God sends upon men and nations
who neither value nor improve the light of truth and
salvation they possess.
Ø Concealing the stars. “And sealeth up the stars” (v. 7). The stars also
are God’s creatures (Genesis 1:16), and as such are obedient to His
control. The vast number, immense magnitudes, and incredible velocities
of the heavenly bodies, as unfolded by modern astronomy, impart to us
loftier conceptions of the Creator’s power than were possessed by
devout Hebrews. The Divine wisdom also is significantly displayed
in the regularity of their movements, which secures that they never
fail to swim out into the blue sea of the celestial firmament when the light
of day has departed. Yet the ease with which the splendor of the midnight
sky can be extinguished, by pouring over it the brilliance of day, or
drawing round it the thick gloom of clouds, is no less striking as A
VISIBLE DISPLAY OF WISDOM AND POWER and one which
must have appeared to an Oriental, looking up into a Syrian sky,
infinitely more solemnizing than it does to a Westerner, who only sees
the stars shining with a dimmer luster.
Ø Bringing down the clouds. “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens”
(v. 8). The reference is probably not to the original creation of the
firmament (Genesis 1:6), but to the visible descent of storm-clouds
upon the sea (Psalm 18:9-11). The poet represents the striking
phenomena of cloud-land as another exhibition of almighty power. The
modern scientist imagines, when he has predicted the advent and
measured the velocity of the tempest, he has effectually disposed of the
Hebrew poet’s notion of supernaturalism in connection with the marvels
of the sky. But the laws by which storm-clouds are built up and let down,
swept along and finally dispersed, have not been spontaneously
developed, or inherently possessed by, but EXTERNALLY
IMPOSED ON NATURE BY HIM WHOSE STRENGTH IS
IN THE CLOUDS, (Psalm 68:34), who employs them as His
chariot (Ibid. ch. 104:3), and who when He pleases draws them
across the face of heaven (Ibid. ch.147:8).
Ø Walking on the billows. “And treadeth upon the waves (literally, ‘the
Heights) of the sea” (v. 8); i.e. upon the fierce mountainous billows. The
two clauses are descriptive of a storm at sea, in which sea and sky appear
to intermingle (Psalm 107:25-26). As the wind, so the water; as the
sky, so the sea; as the cloud, so the wave, recognizes the authority of
God. The Divine power is usually exhibited as calming the troubled
Billows (Psalm 65:7; 89:9, 13). Here Jehovah is portrayed as exciting a
tempest, bringing down His clouds, sending forth His hurricanes,
raising the still waters into gigantic billows, lashing the quiet sea into a
wild and tumultuous commotion, and then going forth in sublime
sovereignty amidst the hurricane He has produced, walking calmly upon
the crested heights of the ocean, causing His voice to be heard above
the loudest roar of the storm,and at length saying, “Peace, be still!”
So Christ visibly
walked upon the
Another picture of God’s sovereignty over creation, another lesson of
God’s ability to be the confidence of them that are afar off upon the sea
Ø The constellations of the northern hemisphere. “Which maketh
Arcturus, Orion, and the Pleiades (literally, ‘who made).”
o ‘Ash; identified with Ursa Major, the Wain, the Bear, an
Exceedingly bright constellation in the northern sky, the
Hebrew term signifying (according to some) “the Nightly
Watcher” because of its never setting, or perhaps with greater
probability being contracted from an Arabic root n’ash’
meaning “bier,” the three stars in the tail being
designated “Daughters of the Bier”; compare ch.38:32.
o Chesil; literally, “Fool,” regarded by the Assyrians as the
famous hunter Nimrod, styled by the Arabs “the Hero,”
and by the Chaldeans, “the Giant;” commonly allowed to
be the splendid constellation Orion, which “stands like a
great giant in the heavens south of Taurus and Gemini.”
o Chimah; literally, “Heap;” the well-known cluster of stars
named “the Pleiades,” a sparkling group compared by
Persian poets to a bouquet formed of jewels.
Ø The constellations of the southern hemisphere. “And the
chambers of the south;” i.e. the regions of the southern sky,
which are completely veiled from view to us, and only occasionally
discovered to Arabian spectators.
The sentiment of v. 10, which almost verbatim repeats the utterance of
Eliphaz (ch.5:10), may be viewed as a general description of the
mighty power of God in upholding, as well as creating, the stupendous
fabric HE HAS SUMMONED INTO BEING! . Regarded in this light,
it describes THE OPERATIONS OF THE DIVINE ENERGY as:
Ø Great. He “doeth great things” (v. 10). Everything that God
does (in creation and providence) MAY BE CHARACTERIZED
AS GREAT! (Psalm 92:5; 111:2), as being the production of infinite
power. The distinction between great and little, when applied to
Divine acts, exists only in the human understanding. The creation of
a solar system is as easy to Omnipotence as the construction of an
atom, and the formation of the latter as much dependent on
DIVINE POWER as the production of the former.
Ø Wonderful. “He doeth wondrous things.” The wisdom displayed
in the Divine works is conspicuous to every intelligent observer
(Psalm 104:24; “For the invisible things of Him from the
creation of the world are CLEARLY SEEN, being understood
by the things that are made, even His eternal power and
Godhead; so that THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE:” –
Romans 1:20). The marvels of creation are fully equaled by the
the structure of a flower, the organization of an animal, are examples
of the former; the Deluge, the
exile, the incarnation and death of Christ, illustrations of the
Ø Unsearchable. He doeth things “past finding out.” Much as modern
science has discovered of the secrets of Nature, there are vast realms
lying unexplored around and beyond her, into some of which it is
doubtful if she will ever be able to penetrate. Her ascertained results
also make it probable that there are works of God into which she
cannot sink the plummet of her finite understanding; as e.g. the nature
of electricity and magnetism, the mystery of life in all its forms and
gradations, the mode in which matter and mind act and react upon
Ø Numerous. He doeth “wonders without number.” The exquisite
variety and the apparently limitless number of God’s works are
impressive testimonies to THE INFINITE POWER AND
MATCHLESS WISDOM OF OUR CREATOR!
11 “Lo, He goeth by me, and I see Him not: He passeth on also, but I
perceive Him not.” Lo, He goeth by me, and I see Him not. Near as
God is to us, close as He comes to us, we cannot directly see Him, or feel Him,
or perceive His presence. We know it by faith, we may feel it in our inmost
spirits; but there is no manifestation of it to our senses. A sharp line divides
the visible and invisible worlds; and this line, if it is ever crossed, is very
rarely crossed. Job possibly reflects upon the pretension of Eliphaz to have
had a physical consciousness of the visitation of a spirit (ch. 4:15-16),
and asserts, with a tinge of sarcasm, that it is otherwise with him — the
spirit-world passes him by, and he receives no light, no illumination, no
miraculous direction from it. He passeth on also. The same verb is used by
Eliphaz (ch. 4:15) in speaking of his spiritual visitation. But I perceive
him not. Eliphaz perceived the presence of the spirit (ch.4:15-16) and
heard its voice (Ibid. vs.16-21). Job seems to mean that he is not so favored.
12 “Behold, He taketh away, who can hinder Him? who will say unto
Him, What doest thou?” Behold, he taketh away; rather, He seizeth the
prey (see the Revised Version). The expression is much stronger than that used
in ch.1:21. Job seems to be smarting under the recollection of all that he
has lost, and takes an aggrieved tone. Who can hinder Him? (compare
Isaiah 45:9; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:20). Who will say unto
him, What doest thou? To have to do with such an irresistible Being,
alone in His might, would indeed be terrible if, while absolutely powerful,
unchecked and uncontrolled from without, He were not also absolutely
good, and therefore controlled and checked by a law from within. This,
however, Job, in his present mood, does not seem clearly to see.
13 “If God will not withdraw His anger, the proud helpers do
stoop under Him.” There is no “if” in the original; and the passage is best
taken categorically: “God does not withdraw His anger;” i.e. the anger
which He feels against those who resist Him. “The helpers of Rahab do
stoop [or, ‘are prostrate’] under Him.” Rahab in this passage, and also in
ch. 26:12, as well us in Isaiah 51:9, seems to be used as the proper
name of some great power of evil. Such a power was recognized in the
the great serpent, continually represented as pierced by Horus
(Rawlinson’s ‘Herodotus,’ vol. 2. p. 257; ‘History of Ancient Egypt,’ vol.
1. p. 395). In the earlier Aryan myths there is a similar personification of
evil in Vitre, called Dasiya, “the Destroyer,” and at perpetual enmity with
Indra and Agni (‘Religions of the Ancient World,’ p. 114). The
Babylonians and Assyrians had a tradition of a great “war in heaven”
(‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 5. pp. 133-136). carried on by seven spirits,
who were finally reduced to subjection. All these seem to be distorted
reminiscences of that great conflict, whereof the only trustworthy account
is the one contained in the Revelation of John, “There was war in
heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon
fought and his angels” — the “helpers” of the present passage — “and
prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven”
(Revelation 12:7-8). Job, it seems, had inherited one of such traditions,
one in which the power of evil was known as Rahab, “the Proud One;” and
he means here to say that God not only holds men in subjection, but also
beings much more powerful than man, as Rahab and his helpers, who had
rebelled and made war on God, and been east down from heaven, and were
now prostrate under God’s feet.
14 “How much less shall I answer Him, and choose out my words to
reason with Him?” How much less shall I answer Him? If He be the Lord
of earth and heaven, if He rule the sun and the stars, if He tread down the sea,
if He be impalpable and irresistible, if He hold the evil power and his helpers
under restraint, how should I dare to answer Him? How should any mere
man do so? And choose out my words to reason with Him? Job feels
that he would be too much overwhelmed to choose his terms carefully, and
yet a careless word might be an unpardonable offence.
15 “Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I
would make supplication to my judge.” Whom, though I were righteous,
yet would I not answer. Even perfect righteousness, so far as possible in a
creature, would not enable a man to stand up in controversy with Him who
“charges His angels with folly” (ch. 4:18); and, moreover, to such righteousness
Job does not pretend (see ch. 7:20-21). But I would make supplication to my
Judge; rather, to mine adversary (see the Revised Version). Prayer is the
only rightful attitude of even the best man before his Maker — prayer for
mercy, prayer for pardon, prayer for grace, prayer for advance in holiness.
16 “If I had called, and He had answered me; yet would I not believe
that He had hearkened unto my voice.” If I had called, and He had
answered me. “If,” that is, “I had challenged God to a controversy, and He
had granted it, and bidden me to plead my cause at His bar, yet could I not
suppose that He had really hearkened to me, and would allow me boldly to
stand up before him and freely to challenge His doings. Such condescension
on His part, such an abnegation of His supremacy, is inconceivable, and I
could not have acted on it.” Yet would I not believe that he had hearkened
unto my voice; rather, yet could I not believe. It was not that He would not
have wished, but that he would not have been able, to believe.
The True Attitude of the Afflicted (vs. 15-16)
Job makes a suitable reflection on the almightiness of Jehovah, seen in His
control over the visible world. The lofty and deep-seated mountains, the
very types of might and stability, He “removeth” without their knowing,
and “overturneth in His wrath.” He “shaketh” the whole “earth out of her
place,” and maketh the “pillars thereof to tremble.” In the high heavens “He
commandeth the sun, and it riseth not;” and “the stars” He “sealeth up” in
darkness. The earth and the heavens obey him; and He “treadeth upon the
waves of the sea.” He doeth hidden and numberless things, and none can
hinder Him. Job, in view of this, and with a lowly recognition of his own
powerlessness before the Lord of all, bows himself down in the attitude
most becoming to the feeble, afflicted, and sinful child of man. It is:
Let the creature bow low before the Creator. Let the feeble thing of a day
humble himself before the Eternal and the Almighty. Let him who is
powerless before the mountains and the sea, who cannot touch the stars,
take his place in the dust, whence he is, in presence of Him who by His
power setteth fast the mountains; who by His word created the heavens
and the earth, and upholdeth all by His own unaided strength. Lowliness
will be followed by:
can who reflects on the greatness of the Most High, the wise, afflicted one
will not trust to an arm of strength; but, in the painful consciousness of his
own weakness, will commit himself to THE STRONG LORD WHO
IS OVER ALL! Job knows, as every afflicted one, that his suffering holds
him as in a net, from which he cannot break loose. He has no power. He is
chained, held down. His own flesh triumphs over him. He is a prisoner to
disease. In his helplessness, with self-distrustfulness he casts himself
into THE ARMS OF GOD! He would not pretend to make answer, or
to “choose out words to reason with Him.” His self-distrust is followed by:
penitence he acknowledges his unrighteousness. And so deep is that
penitence, that he declares, “Though I were able to establish my
righteousness, yet I could not presume to answer.” PENITENCE
IS THE PATHWAY TO HEAVEN’S GATE. He who lowly walks,
walks surely. (Even Ahab, one of the wickest men of the Bible, found
mercy from God – I Kings 21:27-29 – CY - 2013). And God lifteth up
them who thus bow themselves down. But he rises:
makes his “supplication.” He who is led to pray is led to the feet of Him
who casts away no needy suppliant. It is His high prerogative to hear
prayer. Therefore all flesh, in their want, their sorrow, their sin, or with
their songs of praise, come to Him. MAN’S SAFETY IS HERE! The
lowly, self-distrustful, humble penitent cannot raise his voice on high without the
gracious response of the Divine mercy reaching him. To this men are driven:
Ø by their sense of impotence;
Ø by the consciousness of sin;
Ø by the assurance of the Divine mercy.
Happy he who thus learns!
17 “For He breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds
without cause.” For He breaketh me with a tempest. “God’” that is,
“would not be likely patiently to hear my justification, and calmly to weigh it, when
He is already overwhelming me with His wrath, breaking and crushing me
(compare Genesis 3:15, where the same word pWv is used) with a very
storm of calamity.” The sentiment can scarcely be justified, since it
breathes something of a contamacious spirit. But this only shows that Job
was not yet” made perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). And
multiplieth my wounds without cause. A further assertion, not of absolute
sinlessness, but of comparative innocence — of the belief that he had done
nothing to deserve such a terrible punishment as he is suffering (compare
ch. 6:24, 29).
18 “He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with
bitterness.” He will not suffer me to take my breath. “He gives me no
breathing-space,” that is, “no time of relaxation or refreshment. My
existence is one continual. misery.” (compare ch. 7:3-6, 13-19). But
filleth me with bitterness; literally, with bitter things’ or bitterness
(Hebrew, μyriwO rM]m").
19 “If I speak of strength, lo, He is strong: and if of judgment, who shall
set me a time to plead?” If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong. Still the
idea is, “How can I contend with God? If it is to be a trial of strength, it is He who
is strong, not I; if it is to be a suit, or pleading for justice, who will appoint
me a day?” And if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?
(compare below, v 33).
20 “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I
am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” If I justify myself, mine
own mouth shall condemn me. Since he could not wholly justify himself.
“All men have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Job has already admitted the utterance of “rash words” (ch. 6:3), and, at least
hypothetically, that he “has sinned” (ch. 7:20), and needs “pardon” for
his “transgression” (Ibid. v. 21). Job, if he tried to “justify himself,” would
have to acknowledge such shortcomings, such imperfections, such sins — at any
rate, of infirmity — as would make his attempted justification a real self-condemnation.
If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse; rather, even were I perfect
it (i.e. my mouth) would prove me perverse; i.e. supposing I were actually perfect,
and tried to prove it, my speech would be so hesitating and confused, that I should
only seem to be perverse.
Note: It is impossible to entertain too exalted a conception of the great and
holy God with whom we have to do. It is quite possible, even for the best of men,
to misconstrue God’s dealings with the soul, and to regard him as an adversary
who is really a FRIEND! It is well to remember, in every appearance of conflict
between the Creator and the creature, that all the right lies upon the side of God
The nearer saints advance towards perfection, the readier they are to acknowledge
their imperfection. A humble and self-abased spirit before God is quite compatible
with the maintenance of one’s blamelessness before men.
21 “Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would
despise my life.” The original is very elliptical and very obscure. The
words run, I perfect — I know not myself — I abhor my life’ which some
explain as meaning, “Were I perfect, I should not know it myself; I despise
my life under such conditions;” others, “I am perfect” (i.e. guiltless of any plain
offence), “but do not understand myself, and care not what becomes of me;”
others again, “Were I perfect, should I not know myself, and, knowing myself,
despise my own life?” The Septuagint gives us no help, as it plainly follows a
different reading. Probably our present text is a corrupt one.
22 “This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and
the wicked.” This is one thing; rather, the matter is one’ or it is all one.
There is no difference, that is, between the case of the righteous and the
wicked; all are alike sinful in God’s sight, all equally “concluded under sin”
(Galatians 3:22), and all consequently obnoxious to punishment at His
hands (compare Ecclesiastes 9:2). In a certain sense the statement is true,
and corresponds with the argument of Romans 1-3.; but no account is
taken here of God’s gracious forgiveness of sin, much less of the general
scheme of redemption, or the compensation for earthly sufferings in an
eternity of happiness, on which the hope of the Christian rests.
Therefore I said it; rather, therefore I say’ with the Revised Version.
He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. As far as this world is
concerned, it is undoubtedly true that calamities fall alike upon the just and
upon the unjust. Death is the lot of all; trouble, suffering, grief, the
lot of all (ch. 6:7). Nor can it even be said that the wicked in this world suffer
more than the good. Their sufferings are more the natural consequence of their
actions, but do not seem to exceed in amount or severity the sufferings of the
good. But this only shows that there must be a future life to redress the
apparent injustice of the present one, and set the balance right.
23 “If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the
innocent.” If the scourge slay suddenly. Such a “scourge” as war, or
pestilence, or famine, is probably meant. If one of these be let loose upon a
land, and slay, as it always does slay, indifferently the good and the bad,
the innocent and the guilty, what is God’s attitude? Does He interpose to
save the righteous? By no means. He looks on passively, indifferently. Job
even goes further, and says, with an audacity that borders on irreverence,
if it does not even overstep the border, He will laugh at the trial of the
than this.” It may, perhaps, be excused, partly as rhetorical, partly as
needful for the full expansion of Job’s argument. But it is a fearful
24 “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: He covereth the
faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?”
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. As a further
proof of God’s indifference to the sufferings of the innocent, Job adduces
the fact that, in the high places of the earth, are mostly set wicked persons,
who oppress and persecute the righteous. This has probably been true, in
the East at any rate, at all times. He covereth the faces of the judges
thereof. God covers up the eyes of those who have to judge between the
oppressors and the oppressed, so that they pervert judgment, and side with
the oppressors. He does this, since He permits it to be done. Corrupt judges
are among the perennial curses of the East. (Now are we not finding
this true under such an unexpected document as the Untied States Constitution?
How else, if not by bribes or stacking of the courts with judges, who
like those who appoint them, are unworthy to be in their position?
– CY – 2013) If not, where, and who is he? rather, If it be not He
who then is it? (see the Revised Version). Job argues that the established
condition of things in human society must be ascribed to God, since (at least)
He allows it. (See II Thessalonians 2:7-12). There is no one else to whom
it can be ascribed.
25 “Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no
good.” Now my days are swifter than a post. Life slips away so fast
that before it is well begun, it is ended. Job compares it to the swift
passage of the trained runner, or messenger, who carried dispatches for
kings and other great personages in the olden times (see II Chronicles
30:6; Esther 3:13; 8:10, 14). Herodotus says of the trained runners
employed by the Persians, “Nothing mortal travels so fast as these Persian
messengers” (Herodotus, 8:98). There is abundant evidence of the
employment of such persons in ancient
no good. It seems to Job that his prosperity (ch.1:2-5) was only for a
moment. He scarcely could look on it before it was gone.
26 “They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to
the prey.” They are passed away as the swift ships; literally, like the
ships of reed. The allusion is probably to the frail reed vessels of the
Egyptians, of which many ancient writers speak (see Theophrastus, ‘Hist.
Plant.,’ 4:9; Pithy, ‘Hist. Nat.,’ 6:56; 13:11; Luean, ‘ Pharsalis,’ 4:36, etc.).
They were long, light canoes, formed generally of the papyrus plant, and
propelled either by a single paddle or by a punting-pole. They were flat-
bottomed and broad, like punts, with a stem and stern rising considerably
above the level of the water (see the authors ‘History of Ancient Egypt,’
vol. 1. pp. 507, 508). Isaiah speaks of them as “vessels of bulrushes,” in
which “swift messengers” were sent by the nations peopling the banks of
(1:194) were of an entirely different construction, and cannot be here
intended. They consisted of a framework of wood, which was covered with
skins, and then coated with bitumen, and resembled the Welsh “coracles.”
As the eagle that hasteth to the prey; or, as the eagle that swoopeth on
the prey (Revised Version). Job’s observation presents to him three types
· the trained runner upon the earth,
· the swift ships upon the waters, and
· the hungry eagle in the air.
It seems to him that his life passes away as swiftly as any of these.
27 “If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness,
and comfort myself:” If I say, I will forget my complaint (compare, above,
ch. 7:13). Job represents himself as sometimes, for a moment, imagining that
he might put aside his load of sorrow by not thinking of it. He tries, and
says to himself, “I will forget,” etc.; but in vain. The whole mass of his
sufferings seems to rise up against him, and make even momentary
forgetfulness impossible. I will leave off my heaviness; or, my black
looks. And comfort myself (compare ch.10:20 and Psalm 39:13,
where the same verb is rendered “recover strength”).
28 “I am afraid of all my sorrows (see the comment on v. 27).
I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.” The worst of all Job’s
sorrows is the sense of alienation from God, which his unexampled
sufferings have wrought in him. Though unconscious of having deserved
them, he still, not unnaturally, looks upon them as marks of God s
displeasure, proofs that God does not regard him as innocent.
29 “If I be wicked, why then labor I in vain?” If I be wicked; rather,
I am wicked; i.e. I am accounted so — I am already condemned. The
extreme afflictions under which I suffer indicate that God has passed sentence
upon me, and awarded me my punishment. Why then labour I in vain? i.e.
Why argue? Why seek to justify myself, since no result is likely to follow?
Nothing that I can say will alter God’s foregone conclusion.
30 “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so
clean;” If I wash myself with snow-water (compare Psalm 51:7). If
I should succeed in purging myself of all guilt, and establishing, so far as
words can do it, my spotless innocence even then what advantage should I
gain? Snow-water does not really cleanse what is defiled better than any
other water, but a lively fancy might suppose it to do so. Job indulges in
this fancy, but then checks himself, and adds a prosaic alternative. And
make my hands never so clean; rather, and make my hands clean with lye.
Lye, or potash, is the principal and most essential ingredient in soap and
the readiest and best detergent. If Job cleanses himself to the very utmost,
“Cui bono?” (To whose benefit) he asks.
31 “Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall
abhor me.” Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch. Yet would God with
ease undo his work, show his purity to be impure, his righteousness to be
filthy rags, and thus, as it were, replunge him in the mire and clay from
which he had sought to free himself, and hold him forth a more loathsome
wretch than ever. And mine own clothes shall abhor me. So loathsome
would he be that his very garments, stained and fouled by his disease,
would shrink away from him and hate to touch him.
32 “For He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we
should come together in judgment.” (compare vs. 2-14). On one
of two conditions only, Job thinks, could the contest be even between
himself and God.
over the contest, and decide it.
Neither condition, however, was (he thought) possible; and therefore no
satisfactory judgment could take place. Recent commentators observe that the
Christian scheme, which Job could not anticipate, provides almost a literal
fulfillment of both conditions, since the God who is to judge us is “true Man,”
and is also a Mediator, or “Thirds-man,” between us and the offended Father,
with authority to make the final decision, “the Father having committed all
judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22), and “given him authority to execute
judgment also” for the very reason that He is “the Son of man” (Ibid. v. 27).
33 “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand
upon us both.” Neither is there any daysman betwixt us; literally ‘judge’ or
arbitrator called a “daysman,” since he appoints the day on which the
arbitration is to come off. The Septuagint renders by mesi>thv – mesitaes –
mediator. That might lay his hand upon us both. Moderate between us,
that is; keep us both in cheek; assert an authority to which we must both submit.
The Mediator (v. 33)
The object desired by Job — and here he speaks for all sinful ones – IS TO
OBTAIN RECONCILATION WITH JEHOVAH, against whom he
acknowledges himself to have sinned. He cries for a mediator, an arbiter, an umpire;
one able to “lay his hand upon us both’ — to bring us together, mediating between us.
Ø From Job’s consciousness of sin. In his prayer (v. 28) he confesses
To God, “I know thou wilt not hold me innocent.” “I am not
innocent,” is the first confession of guilt. “If I justify myself, my
own mouth shall condemn me.”
Ø From Job’s inability to “answer” to God. Of this he has made
both complaint and confession. “Whom, though I were righteous,
yet would I not answer” (v. 15). Fear and just humility seize him.
“How much less shall I answer him?” (v. 14). Man cannot order
his own cause before the eternal Judge. (That is why we need an
advocate and Jesus Christ is that Advocate! – I John 2:1 – CY –
2013). “He cannot answer him one of a thousand” (v. 3).
Ø From their utter inequality. “He is not a man, as I am” (v. 32).
They could not therefore “come together in judgment.” How
vain of poor, ignorant, feeble, sinful man to suppose that he can
answer to God — that he can “appear before Him!” How vain
even to imagine himself justified and pure before Him! Yet many
“appear before” God in the presumptuous, self-excusing,
self-justifying thoughts of their minds. All such self-justification
condemned by Job’s wise words and just views of things.
HEART OF MAN FOR A MEDIATOR. Seen in all religious systems —
the faith in the priest — the conscious ignorance of hidden spiritual
verities. The uninterpreted apprehension of a spiritual world and
government and future, and yet the inability to deal with these and to put
one’s self in a right attitude respecting them. THIS CRY IS HEARD
a daysman!” (Well, there is One, as stated above, “JESUS CHRIST,
THE RIGHTEOUS!” - I John 2;1 – CY – 2013). This cry prepares
for and anticipates THE TRUE MEDIATOR!
MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN.” Happily “Himself Man.”
God “hath spoken unto us in His Son” — no longer in prophets, but in
A SON, who is at the same time “the effulgence of His glory (God), and
the very image of His substance;” and yet “Man” — “bone of our bone”
See Hebrews 1:1-3; Genesis 2:23. “God manifested in the flesh,” and yet
“in all things” “made like unto his brethren” (See I Timothy 3:16;
Hebrews 2:17). Speaking with Divine authority to us in OUR
LANGUAGE and OF HEAVENLY THINGS ON OUR LEVEL,
and revealing within the compass of a human life, and by means of human
acts and human sentiments, THE THOUGHT AND LOVE AND PITIFUL
MERCY OF GOD! And representing us — doing what Job felt (and all
have felt whose views were just) and could not do, “appear before the
face of God for us.” Now we “have our access through Him in one
Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). If we cannot order our speech
or our cause, HE CAN! If we cannot answer one of a thousand, HE CAN!
For HE IS ABLE, indeed, to “put His hand upon both.”
34 “Let Him take his rod away from me, and let not His fear terrify me:”
Let him take His rod away from me; rather, who would remove Hhis rod
from me. Job means that it would be a part of the duty of the “daysman” to see
that God’s rod was removed from him before he was called upon to plead, so that
he might not labor under so erect a disadvantage as his sufferings would place him
under. And let not his fear terrify me; or, and would not suffer his fear to
terrify me; i.e. would not allow Job to be placed under the disadvantage, either
of pain or of fear, either of actual or prospective suffering.
35 “Then would I speak, and not fear Him; but it is not so with me.”
Then would I speak, and not fear Him. Job has imagined
conditions which are impossible (though they may, to some extent, be
compensated for in the actual scheme of man’s redemption); and says that,
under the circumstances which he has imagined, he would not fear to
justify himself before God. The assertion is over-daring and shows
the patriarch to be no longer master of himself, but carried
away by the force of overwrought feeling. But it is not so with me;
i.e. “I am not in such a position as to enter on my justification.” I am weighted
by my sufferings, and also by my fears. I therefore decline the contest.
Note: There is a clear difference between maintaining one’s blamelessness
before men and asserting one’s righteousness before God. The character of God’s
heart is not always to be inferred from the dealings of God’s hand. Many things
are permitted to occur in God’s universe of which He does not approve.
The science of numbering our days is one that all mortals should learn. (“So
teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12) The true value of life is not to be estimated by its length.
The best consolation in human sorrow is the enjoyment of Divine favor.
The finest and purest morality will not enable a man to do without a
mediator. NO MAN CAN COME TO GOD except through JESUS
CHRIST! (John 6:44) But in Him and through Him we have access
by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:18).
Melancholy Reflections (vs. 25-35)
has sped swiftly — like a courier, or the swift boat of the
Here Job perverts the history of his past; but memory as well as reason is
its wing. The effort to remove the gloom from his brow is useless, unless
he could remove the weight from his heart. That — the sense of the
disfavor of God — comes roiling back from every effort, like the stone of
himself as under an absolute decree of guilt which no earthly power can
possibly remove. Should he use snow-water and lye, i.e. employ all means
to justify himself, still his absolute Judge would plunge him back into a
state of horrible pollution.
GOD. Were it between man and man, he has no doubt of the success of his
“daysman,” or arbitrator, who can lay the hand of authority upon both of
us, and, by determining the cause, bring the strife to an end.
of speech (vs. 34-35; ch.10:1-2). The last, or one of the last, boons
that honorable men can be disposed to deny to the oppressed; one that
God will never deny to his intelligent creatures. Yet Job, overcome by the
dogmatism of his friends, seems to think it is now denied him. The resolve
is that since life has now become a weariness and a disgust, he will give
free way to words, regardless of consequences.
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