Job 31 Commentary Verses 1-23

Job 31 Commentary: Have you ever found yourself in the position of needing to give a defense of your actions? Or even a defense of your character?

It’s difficult to do. And one thing that makes it so difficult is that you’re not wanting to boast of yourself. You’d rather let the lips of another man praise you and not your own. You’re wanting to be humble and modest.

Even the Apostle Paul experienced this uncomfortable need to defend himself in 2 Corinthians and you can tell by the phrases he chooses there that this was not his desire – to be speaking so highly and glowingly of himself.

And this is what we see the biblical character Job having to do in Job chapter 31. So, let’s turn our attention to that chapter. Job 31.

Job chapter 31 records Job’s last words of self-defense. He’s had to defend himself against the accusation that his friends have been making that he’s secretly sinning.

Job’s friends believe that God works in this world in such a way that good is always and only rewarded and sin is always and only punished – in this life. And so, the friends see what’s happened to Job and all of his suffering and they assume that God is punishing him for some sort of sin.

At the same time, Job also has believed generally the same thing that his friends believe. But he has the advantage of knowing that he has not committed some sort of sin that would warrant God’s punishment.

And that causes great confusion in Job’s soul. God’s ways aren’t making sense to him.

And so, in this chapter – chapter 31 – Job is basically calling to God’s attention the fact that he’s not done anything deserving the kind of treatment that God has been giving him.

In fact, in the first 23 verses of this chapter we have six different areas that Job wants to bring up in which he’s been righteous and undeserving of God’s punishment.

Job 31 Commentary 1-4 Lust

And so, Job starts off in verses 1-4 by claiming that he’s been free of sexual immorality – even in the form of lusting after women.

KJV Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes;
[why/how] then [should/could] I [think upon/gaze at/entertain thoughts against] a [maid/virgin]?

So, Job had made a promise – as it were – with his eyes. And that promise involved “a maid’ or a young unmarried woman – or, really, all young unmarried women.

And it comes as no surprise that this sin that Job is speaking of is a big problem for men.

There’s a reason – that as the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is clarifying and intensifying the Old Testament Law – where he’s trying to make us see that it’s not just sins of the body that matter – but sins of the heart are also just as damning – that Jesus intensifies the commandment against adultery – which most people would take to be physical – and he clarifies that even the lust that would lead to adultery is itself adultery.

The current so-called #MeToo movement where numerous women are coming forward and claiming sexual abuse by men who held some power and influence in their lives is another testament to the fact that what Job is addressing is a tendency and temptation that is common to man.

It’s a common sin, then. And the amazing fact is that Job had an uncommon approach to this temptation.

He made a promise with his eyes not to lust after young women. And he’s implying that he had kept that promise with himself. And – for Job – he’s saying that this is one reason that he doesn’t deserve the kind of treatment that he’s receiving from God.

And I like Job’s wording that he uses here and would advocate it to everyone here who struggles in this area of lust – to think to yourself whenever the temptation arises – “Why then should I think upon” this area of temptation?

Ask yourself “why?” In the heat of the moment – “Why should I do this?

And I’m not saying that asking this question alone is going to solve all of your problems, but I think we’d do well to approach temptation with Job’s mindset on it – “why?

Well, Job has an answer to his “why?” question. He’s going to answer the question of what happens if someone does indulge in that temptation and gives in and sins with lustful thoughts.

Here’s what Job says of people who constantly give-in to lusting with their eyes.

2 [For/And/Then] what [portion/lot] of God is there from above?
and what [inheritance/heritage] of the Almighty from on high?

In other words, a person who constantly gives in to breaking his promise with his eyes to lust after young women – well, Job wonders aloud what he’ll receive from God.

And he doesn’t wonder for long. In verse 3, he answers the question posed – what does a person who constantly gives-in to lust receive from God?

3 Is [it…] not [destruction/calamity/misfortune] [to/for] the [wicked/unjust]?
and [a strange punishment/disaster] [to/for] [the workers of/those who work] iniquity?

So, this kind of lusting with the eyes is characteristic of the “wicked” and “workers of iniquity.” And Job says that it’s common knowledge that these individuals meet with destruction and disaster from God. That’s their portion.

Now, we do need to remind ourselves that in Christ all of our sins are forgiven – even the sin of lusting. God has promised in the New Covenant to not remember our sins and lawless deeds ever again. And we praise him for these wonderful merciful realities.

But it would be dishonoring to God to pretend as if he’s now fine with us lusting with our eyes. The Apostle Paul warns us not to use our liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.

So, while we rejoice in God’s free forgiveness of our sins in Christ – we can’t approach this area of life with a “who cares?” kind of attitude. We need to be serious about being pure individuals – both physically and mentally – with our bodies and our minds. In Christ, we are now free to live lust-free lives.

And Job was a pure man – he was pure with his eyes as he says here – and later on he’ll address the matter of his body not being involved in immorality either.

And because of this purity – but then the matter of God seeming to punish him – Job speaks into the air as-it-were and laments that God doesn’t seem to take notice of his attempts to remain pure.

4 Doth not he see my ways,
and [count/number] all my steps?

So, I think he’s appealing to God. God has seen the reality of Job’s claim in verse 1 – that he’s kept his covenant with his eyes and has not lusted after young women.

And I think Job is saying both that God knows the reality of what Job is claiming – but also, Job is sort of complaining that God doesn’t seem to take notice of this purity in Job’s life. Job’s still being punished by God – even though he’s been able to do what many men fail at – to resist lusting with their eyes.

Job could also be giving here a reason for his concern for not lusting with his eyes. If Job looks at young women with lust, won’t God look at him and realize what he’s doing? And that thought is unsettling to Job.

Job 31 Commentary 5-6 Lying

Well, next, in verses 5 and 6, Job claims that he hasn’t lied. And he presents this in terms of a conditional clause – and “if-then” statement.

5 If I have walked [with/in] [vanity/falsehood],
or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;

Then…

6 Let me be weighed [in/with] [an even/accurate/honest] [balance/scales],

And I’ll stop there before he gets to his second statement.

But what Job is saying so far in these two verses is he’s assuming for a moment that he’s lied. “If I’ve lied…” Well, if he’s lied, then he says that God can weigh him with scales that don’t lie – an even balance.

And if someone lies, and God weighs him on a right balance, then you’d expect that this man would be found to be a liar.

But that’s not what Job says in the last line of verse 6. In the last line of verse 6, Job can’t seem to keep up the theoretical possibility that he’s a liar. So, when he’s weighed by God, this is what will happen – not that he’ll be found guilty, but…

[that God may/and let God/then God] [know/will discover] mine integrity.

So, Job portrays it like God is going to discover something new that he didn’t know. God is going to discover that Job is a man of integrity.

And I think this goes along with the thinking of Job that God is maybe a little mistaken in his assumptions about Job.

Why else would God be punishing a righteous man? Because – again – Job is under the assumption that God only and always rewards good and only and always punishes sin.

God is punishing the righteous Job. Therefore, God is…wrong?! In need of being informed?? God needs to weigh Job on truthful balances – and then perhaps finally God will see that Job is unworthy of this suffering in his life.

That’s what Job is saying.

So far then, Job has vehemently asserted that he has not been immoral or deceitful.

Job 31 Commentary 7-8 Et Cetera

And next in verses 7 and 8, Job declares that he’s innocent of all sorts of general sins.

7 If my [step/footsteps] hath [turned/strayed] [out of/from] the way,
and mine heart [walked after/followed/has gone after] mine eyes,
and if any [blot/spot] hath [cleaved/stuck] to mine hands [thus defiling them…];

So – if what Job has done with his feet or his heart or his hands has been unfaithful to God…

8 Then let me sow, and let another eat;
yea, let my [offspring/crops/“what sprouts up”] be [rooted out/uprooted].

So, Job is trying to prove to both his friends and his God that he’s done right – and one way to do that is to utter this kind of a curse on oneself. People tend to resort to calling down some awful calamity upon themselves if this-or-that is the case or is not the case – and they do that in order to try to prove that they’re innocent.

And that’s what Job is doing here and has been doing. “If I’ve sinned, then let me sow – and instead of me eating what I’ve sown” – which is how it normally should work – “let someone else eat it.

And even worse – whatever Job plants he says can be – not eaten by others – but rather totally uprooted if he’s guilty of sin in the realms of feet, heart, or hands.

Job 31 Commentary 9-12 Adultery

So, after contending that he’s innocent of lust, lying, and sin in general, Job returns to the matter of sexual purity.

And he goes a step beyond what he addressed in verses 1-4. In verses 1-4 he was denying that he lusted in his heart with his eyes. But now in verses 9-12 Job is going to speak of the logical conclusion of lust in the heart – and that is physical adultery with the wife of one’s neighbor.

And he says that he’s never done that.

9 If mine heart have been [deceived/enticed] by a woman,
or if I have [laid wait/lurked/lain in wait] at my neighbour’s door;

So, Job paints the picture of a possibility – that of being drawn-in or enticed by a woman – and then taking it one step further and actually pursuing that woman – even to the doorstep of that woman’s house – and not caring that that woman is actually the wife of your neighbor!

That’s something that people do! You and I know people who have done that.

And in Job’s mind, verse 10 is the kind of repercussion that a man like this deserves.

10 Then let my wife [grind/turn the millstone] [unto/for] another [man…],
and let others [bow/kneel] down [upon/over] her. [have sexual relations with her…]

And, what we just heard is distasteful. It’s shameful.

Job is saying that if he has been unfaithful to his wife – then it would serve him right if his wife was taken by another man.

And it seems that he’s envisioning a concubine situation. In the first line of verse 10 he speaks of his wife grinding grain for another man – making his food – taking care of his need to eat.

And that second line speaks of Job’s wife being involved in intimate physical relations – not just with one other man – but he says “others” – which again is all very shameful and not the most pleasant thing to be speaking of in a mixed audience or any audience, really.

But in Job’s mind – in this life it’s tit-for-tat – you sin and your punishment should fit the crime – lex talionis.

And that’s what’s so difficult for Job. He’s looking at his life and seeing punishment that would fit a crime of a tremendously heinous magnitude. But the problem is that he’s not guilty of it.

In the context of verses 9 and 10, he has not been adulterous. And even though we don’t have explicit reason to believe that any of these things have really happened to Job’s wife – although we haven’t heard anything about her since the first few chapters of this book. But even though it seems like these things probably didn’t happen to Job’s wife – the suffering that Job is experiencing seems to be just as painful as experiencing something like verse 10 happening in Job’s life.

Well, both physical adultery and the punishment earned by adulterers is all so odious that Job needs to take the next two verses to speak of how horrendous this whole hypothetical situation really is.

11 For [this is/that would be/I would have committed] [an/a] [heinous/lustful/shameful] [crime/act];
[yea/moreover], it is an iniquity to be [punished by the judges/judged].

So, if anyone thinks that the punishment that Job claims is appropriate for adultery is over-the-top, Job wants to argue his point. Adultery is heinous and it’s a crime and it’s iniquity and it’s something to be judged.

And he also acknowledges that should he ever commit adultery, he’d be playing with deadly fire.

12 For it is a fire that [consumeth/devours even] to [destruction/Abaddon],
and would [root out/uproot] all mine [increase/harvest].

So, adultery – as Job testifies – would destroy both him and his substance.

And the point that Job is trying to convey is not just that he hasn’t committed adultery – but even that the thought of it is completely abhorrent to him.

And so, Job adds this sin as yet another one that he is not guilty of.

So, Job has vehemently denied lusting after young women, lying, sin in general, and adultery.

Job 31 Commentary 13-15 Servants

And next in verses 13-15 Job is going to deny doing wrong to his servants – even when they had a complaint against him.

13 If I [did/have] [despise/disregarded] the [cause/claim/right] of my manservant or of my maidservant,
when they [contended/filed a complaint/disputed] [with/against] me;

So, Job once again calls our attention to something that’s rather common among our human race. And it’s actually twofold: first, to despise or think little of those who serve us or whom we perceive to be lower than us in some way – and second, to especially discount what this kind of person would say – especially when it relates to them complaining about us.

I think many of us know what it is at work – to make some proclamation just like your boss would – but no one reacts to it the same way as they react to him. You’re lower than the big boss – and so it’s very natural for people to discount what you have to say. Even though you’re saying the same exact thing as the big boss is saying – and everyone would listen to him when he says it. This is unfortunately very natural.

And then of course, the natural way of reacting to someone complaining against you is to get offended and to tell them off or to ignore them.

But Job says that he didn’t take advantage of his position. He heard people out – even when they had problems with him – even when they were his very own servants!

Nobody was forcing him to act that way. That’s just the kind of a man he was and still is at this point.

But if he were to despise his servants – especially the ones that complain to him – here’s what Job acknowledges would be the case concerning his standing with God.

14 What then [shall/could/will] I do when God [riseth up/arises/confronts me in judgement]?
and when he [visiteth/calls me to account/intervenes], [what/how] shall I [answer/respond to] him?

So, if Job ignored the “little people” in his life – then how could he – a little person in God’s eyes – have any hope of God listening to him.

Again, Job is looking at things as if every action has an equal reaction – every sin has a corresponding punishment – every act of righteousness has a corresponding blessing from God.

So, if Job despises those lower than him, then he could expect to be despised by God as one who is lower than God.

And when it comes down to it – when Job puts himself in the position of God in a way – in the sense of him being higher than his workers like God is higher than Job – well, it makes Job acknowledge that when it comes down to it – he and his servants are all on the same level – unlike his position in relation to God…

15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him?
and did not [the same…] one fashion us in the womb?

In other words, all men are created equal. Ultimately, how do we differ from one another? Job is expressing what he’s always believed – that though he was wealthy and incredibly blessed – yet, he’s just like anyone else – he’s just one of us – he puts his pants on one leg at a time.

So, Job has not lusted, lied, sinned in various and sundry ways, committed adultery, or thought little of his servants.

Job 31 Commentary 16-23 Poor and Needy

And the next thing that Job is going to deny ever doing is mistreating the poor.

So, he’s treated his servants equitably. And he’s also treated the poor and needy with much grace and kindness.

But he’s going to say it from another angle and with a number of conditional “if” clauses…

16 If I have [withheld/kept/refused to give] the poor [from their/what they] desire,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;

Now, verses 16-21 contain a large “if” statement. The “then” comes in verse 22.

And so, Job starts this “if” section by giving the possibility that he hasn’t given the poor what they desire and has caused the eyes of the widow to fail – or that he’s caused widows to give up hope and caused them to weep.

And he doesn’t give the appropriate punishment for such a crime – as I’ve said – until verse 22.

So, until then, Job continues to fill-out how he could have sinned against the poor – but of course he didn’t do it…

17 Or have eaten my morsel [of bread…] myself alone,
and the [fatherless/orphan] hath not eaten thereof;

So, Job could have been the type to withhold his food from the orphan without sharing. He could have consumed all of what he had on himself.

But then the hypothetical gets to be too much for Job and he declares in verse 18 that verses 16 and 17 are totally preposterous in light of Job’s life.

18 ([For/But] from my youth he [was brought/grew] up with me, as with a father [i.e., that’s how Job raised him…],
and I have guided [her/the widow] from [my mother’s womb/infancy];)

And there’s probably some hyperbole at work here. Job speaks of his caring for the orphan and widow from his youth – no, actually from his mother’s womb!

Job is exaggerating for effect and to highlight that caring for the needy has been his continual practice for as long as he can remember.

And so, now that Job has set the record straight on his treatment of the orphan and widow, he’s going to throw out the possibility that he’s been unrighteous to those who lack proper clothing.

19 If I have seen [any/anyone about to] perish for [want/lack] of clothing,
or [any poor/a poor man] without [covering/a coat];

So, in this situation where a person is lacking clothing and is about to die because of it, Job indicates what kind of treatment this man would have received from him…

20 [If his/whose] [loins/heart] [have/did] not [blessed/thank] me, [but they did…]
[and if/as] he [were not warmed/warmed himself] with the fleece of my sheep; [but he was…]

So, in the case of people who lacked clothing – Job came to the rescue with clothing made from the fleece of his own sheep – and the result was that this kind of person blessed and thanked Job.

And Job is going to address one more situation regarding the poor and needy – and that is, how he used to treat them in judicial matters…

21 If I have [lifted up/raised] my hand [to vote…] against the [fatherless/orphan],
when I saw [my help/I had support] in the [gate/court]:

So, Job is envisioning a time when in theory he could have voted against an orphan – one with no power – and what could have encouraged Job to do so was that he had support from others in the “gate” – where all the judicial proceedings took place.

Job would have had support to vote against the powerless for his own gain. He had support among those in power. And by contrast this orphan wouldn’t have had any such power. There’s not a thing that the orphan could do to stop Job if Job wanted to be that kind of guy.

But here’s the kind of punishment that Job thinks that kind of theoretical action would call for…

22 Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade,
and mine arm be broken [from the bone/off at the elbow (or socket)].

So, it’s the arm that would have been raised in a vote against the orphan. And so – according to Job’s tendency to assign an appropriate punishment to the crime – he envisions the appropriate punishment as being his own arm falling off.

And Job finishes this sub-section explaining why he acted with kindness and equity toward the poor.

23 For [destruction/calamity] from God was a terror to me,
and by reason of his [highness/majesty] I [could not endure/can do nothing/was powerless].

It’s just like the author said back in chapter 1. Job “feared God.” He knew God’s desire regarding the poor and needy. And he knew that if he didn’t carry out God’s merciful desires for the poor that he himself would be in trouble.

Job regarded God’s demands with sobriety and a desire to do them in his life.

And Job is going to go on in the rest of the chapter to speak of how he hasn’t committed idolatry or hated his enemy or withheld things from others or hid his sin or been unjust with his property. And he’s even going to lament God’s treatment of him and call God his “adversary.”

We’ll study all of that next time, Lord-willing.

Job 30 Summary

Job 30 Summary: So, in Job chapter 29 we witnessed Job wishing for the “good old days.” He was reminiscing on all of the wonderful things that God used to do for him. And then he was contrasting what his life had become.

But he didn’t get too much into the details of how his life had changed for the worse. He left that until this chapter – chapter 30.

So, in Job chapter 30 we’re going to witness Job explaining to his friends how bad his life has become.

Additionally, we’ll also see Job complaining directly to God regarding what Job regards as God being cruel to him.

Job 30 Summary 1a

So, to begin, Job wants to let everyone know that he is being mocked by those younger than him.

KJV Job 30:1 But now they that are younger than I [have me in derision/mock me],

And of course, this is a bad thing – the younger mocking the older. And yet, I think we’re a bit desensitized as to how awful it really is because of our popular culture that promotes rebellion against every authority. But to Job and his culture, this kind of behavior was just completely unacceptable – and it’s likely that everyone would have agreed. Well, maybe everyone except these younger folks that are mocking Job.

Job 30 Summary 1b

And the really frustrating part of this for Job is that even the fathers of these kids – Job is now going to admit – were worthless fellows! And now their sons – even more worthless than they – are mocking him.

whose fathers I would have disdained [too much…] to have [set/put] with [the dogs of my flock/my sheep dogs].

So, Job is using greater to lesser logic. If the fathers of these kids who now mock him were too insignificant to be put with the dogs that watched Job’s sheep in the old days, then how much worse are the sons of these men?!

So, they were insignificant. And furthermore, the fathers of these young mockers were weak.

2 [Yea/Indeed/Moreover], [whereto/how even] might the strength of their hands profit me,
in whom [old age/vigor/strength] [was/had] perished?

So, these fathers were too old and feeble for their supposed strength to be of any use to Job in the old days when he wouldn’t have even employed them to work with his sheep dogs.

And, not only were these men contemptible and weak, they were also scrawny as a result of going hungry.

3 [For/From] want and [famine/hunger] they were [solitary/gaunt];
[fleeing into/who gnaw/they would gnaw] the [wilderness/dry ground/parched land] in former time desolate and waste.

So, these men from Job’s old days were weak and skinny and hungry. Job in times past – in his glory days – was far better-off than they were.

And these men who never could have worked for Job were so hungry – as we just saw – that they would go out to find whatever sustenance they could from the salt marshes.

4 Who [cut up/pluck] mallows by the bushes, [by the brush they would gather herbs from the salt marshes…]
and [juniper roots/the root of the broom shrub] [for/was] their [meat/food].

And whatever the exact references Job makes to various plants – the point is clear. These men that Job never would have dreamed of employing would have to scrape up their food from some pretty far-off places – because they were so worthless.

And that’s because Job says that these men from the old days were blights to their communities and were thus driven far from civilization.

5 They were [driven forth from among/driven from/banished from] [men/the community],
([they/people] [cried after/shout against/shouted after] them as [after/against/they would shout at] a thief;)

So, Job paints this picture of these men being chased off by society. And he’s not saying these things so that we would feel bad for them. Job is indicating and testifying how bad and worthless these men really were. They were bad guys.

And – as Job and his three friends would have believed – the fact that bad things were happening to them indicated the kind of people they were, generally.

So, because their communities drove these men of old away from them – they were forced to dwell in uninhabited waste places.

6 [To/So that they] [dwell/had to live] in [the clifts of the valleys/dreadful valleys/the dry stream beds],
in [caves/holes] of the [earth/ground], and [in/of/among] the rocks.

7 Among the bushes they brayed [i.e., like animals…];
under the nettles they [were/are] [gathered/huddled] together.

So, Job says that these men from the olden days – because they were rejected for their worthless ways – congregated in desolate places.

And these men themselves were children of men of similar character to themselves.

8 They were [children/sons] of [fools/senseless], [yea/and], [children of base men/nameless people]:
they were [viler than/scourged from/driven out of] the [earth/land]. [i.e., with whips…]

So, the fathers of the fathers of these children that Job references all the way back in verse 1 were fools and base and nameless. They were completely unnoteworthy – and even worse – according to Job.

Job 30 Summary 9

And even though these young men and their fathers are all so worthless and vile – yet, Job has been put in a position in which they feel free to mock him – this once-great man.

9 And now [am I/I have become] their [song/taunt song],
yea, I [am/have become] their byword.

So, this has been why Job has been talking about these young men’s fathers at such great length. He’s been setting this up for us. The fathers of these young men were so awful and vile. And certainly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as we say. And so, these young men have to be worse than even their deadbeat dads.

And yet – despite that fact – Job – who was once so favored and blessed by God – Job is now being mocked by these people.

And the reactions of these young men range from them just ignoring Job to them actually spitting in his face.

10 They [abhor/detest] me, they [flee/stand] [far/aloof] from me, [i.e., maintaining their distance…]
and [spare/refrain/hesitate] not to spit in my face.

And the question must be asked – why are these young men even able to abuse Job like this? The answer that Job cannot avoid is that God has made this happen.

11 Because he hath [loosed/untied] my [i.e., tent…] cord, and afflicted me,
[they/people] [have also let loose the bridle before me/throw off all restraint in my presence].

So, like a horse that’s been unbridled, these young men show no restraint in their behavior toward the suffering Job. They mock him and spit in his face. And this is all happening because God is allowing it – no, causing it to happen – from Job’s perspective.

Job 30 Summary 12

And then, Job is going to turn his attention back from what God is doing that’s causing these bad things to happen to him – to calling to mind once more what these young men are doing to abuse him.

12 [Upon/On] my right hand rise [the youth/their brood/the young rabble];
they [push away/thrust aside] my feet, [they drive me from place to place…]
and [they raise up/build up] against me [the ways of their/their ways of] destruction. [siege ramps…]

13 They [mar/break up/destroy] my path,
they [set forward/profit from/succeed in] [my calamity/destroying me],
[they have/with] no [helper/assistant].

14 They [came upon me/come in] as a wide [breaking in of waters/breach]:
[in/amid] the [desolation/tempest/crash] they [rolled themselves upon me/roll on/come rolling in].

And I must admit that these claims that Job is making seem unrealistic or exaggerated. But I think we can assume that these things have actually happened to Job – they’re just not reported as happening in the narrative of this book.

So, young men are mocking him – spitting at him – resisting him in various ways. It seems like as Job has been destitute and weakened, youth have been taking advantage of him in various ways. And Job isn’t able to stop them.

Job 30 Summary 15

And of course it’s not just young men that are challenging Job and making his life hard.

There are other non-human realities that Job is going to complain about now.

15 Terrors are turned [upon/against/loose on] me:
they [pursue/drive away] my [soul/honor] [as/like] the wind:
and my [welfare/prosperity/deliverance] passeth away as a cloud.

16 And now my soul [is poured/pours itself] out [upon/within] me;
the days of [affliction/suffering] have taken hold upon me.

17 My bones are pierced in me [in/by] the night season:
and my [sinews/gnawing pains] [take no rest/never cease].

So, soul, mind, and body are all in turmoil for Job.

Job 30 Summary 18

And so, Job now is once again going to turn his discontentment with his situation toward the one whom he knows to be ultimately responsible for his misery – and that is God.

18 [By/With] [the great force/great power] of my disease [is my garment changed/my garment is distorted/my garment is grasped by God]:
[it/he] bindeth me about as the collar of my [coat/tunic].

So, Job is picturing God as if he were grabbing Job by the collar with great force and almost strangling him.

And Job will use another metaphor – God is throwing him into the mud.

19 He hath [cast/flung] me into the [mire/mud],
and I [am become like/have come to resemble] dust and ashes.

So, Job is filthy and he blames God for that.

And in the midst of all of this disgrace, Job feels as though God has totally abandoned him.

20 I cry [unto/out to] thee [i.e., for help…],
and thou dost not [hear/answer] me:

I stand up,
and thou [regardest me not/turn your attention against me/only look at me].

So, God only ignores Job in his suffering.

But I ask – has God ignored Job? Is God unaware of what Job is going through?

Not at all! God himself has done these things to Job. He knows all about it. And – in a way that makes no sense to Job or us – God cares about what’s happening to Job.

But Job doesn’t see it that way.

21 [Thou art/You have] become cruel to me:
with [thy strong hand/the might of your hand/the strength of your hand] thou [opposest thyself against/persecute/attack] me.

So, God is cruelly attacking Job. That’s how it seems to him.

And then Job pictures God tossing him into the air in a tempestuous storm.

22 Thou [liftest/pick] me up [to/on] the wind; thou [causest/make] me to ride upon it,
and [dissolvest/toss me about] [my substance/me in the strorm].

And what else could all of this eventuate in except for death?

23 For I know that thou [wilt bring/are bringing] me to death,
and to the [house appointed/house of meeting/meeting place] for all [the…] living.

So, Job is convinced that God is going to kill him in his miserable condition.

Job 30 Summary 24

And that causes Job to start arguing that he really doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment.

After all, it’s not right to kick a man when he’s down.

24 [Howbeit/Yet/Surely] [he will/one does] not stretch out his hand [to the grave/in a heap of ruins/against a broken man],
though [they/he] cry [out for help…] in his [destruction/disaster/distress].

And Job looks back on how he’s treated others who were in a situation similar to the one he’s in now.

25 [Did/Have] not I [weep/wept] for [him that was in trouble/the one whose life is hard/the unfortunate]?
was not my soul grieved for the [poor/needy]?

And yet, as Job is looking for this kind of mercy and help from God, the Almighty seems unwilling to give it.

26 When I [looked for/expected/hoped for] good,
[then evil/trouble] came unto me:

and when I [waited for/expected] light,
[there/then] came darkness.

Job 30 Summary 27

And then Job ends this chapter seeming to focus on the physical effects that his trial is having on him.

27 My [bowels/innards/heart] [boiled/are seething/is in turmoil], [and rested not/and cannot relax/unceasingly]:
the days of [my…] affliction [prevented/confront] me.

28 I [went/go about] [mourning/blackened] [without the sun/without comfort/but not by the sun]:
I [stood/stand] up, and I [cried/cry out] [for help…] in the [congregation/assembly].

Job is out beyond the realm of civilization.

29 I [am/have become] a brother to [dragons/jackals],
and a companion [to owls/of ostriches].

His body is burned and feverish.

30 My skin [is/turns/has turned] [black/dark] [upon/on] me,
and my [bones/body] [are burned/burn/is hot] with [heat/fever].

And as a result, whatever Job may have used in times past to rejoice is used solely for mourning now.

31 My harp [also/therefore] is [turned to/used for] mourning,
and my [organ/flute] [into/to/for] the [voice/sound] of them that weep.

So, Job’s life is very hard. Not only are people against him – but so is his God. The God hes worshiped for so long.

And Job will continue his defense in chapter 31.

Job 29 Summary

Job 29 Summary: I think that many or probably all of us have heard people wistfully speak of the “good old days.” Maybe you yourself have engaged in that kind of speech.

And I think the older we get, the more likely we are to longingly think of times gone by. And one reason for that is simply that the older we get, the harder – generally – life is for us. The more trials we have.

And as we have more and harder trials – our past with its relative ease looks more and more attractive.

And I believe it’s this kind of dynamic that Job expresses in the 29th chapter of the book named after him. So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 29.

And here in the 29th chapter of Job, Job takes this whole chapter to lament that God isn’t treating him like he used to. He longingly looks back on his “good old days” for 25 verses.

Job 29 Summary Verse 1

And in verses 1-10 Job reminisces over all the blessings that he used to have – and he wishes that that were still the case with him.

KJV Job 29:1 [Moreover/And/Then] Job [continued/took up] his [parable/discourse/speech], and said,

2 Oh that I were as in months [past/gone by/now gone],
as in the days when God [preserved/watched over] me;

So Job is lamenting that God – in his estimation – isn’t preserving and watching over him. And so, what we have throughout this entire chapter is Job looking back fondly at his life before chapters 1 and 2 of this book – before Satan comes before God and God points out Satan to Job.

Job 29 Summary Verse 3

Well, what was happening in Job’s life when God was preserving and watching over him? Job says that that was a time…

3 When his [candle/lamp] shined upon my head,
and when by his light I walked through darkness;

So, Job remembers this time in his life as one marked by light.

And of course, Job is not speaking of physical light. He’s not lamenting the fact that the Sun no longer shines on him.

But Job is picturing the way God treated him in the old days and he’s expressing the feeling he has about it. In his recollection, it’s as if God was lighting his way. God was expelling darkness all around him.

And of course, by contrast, Job at this point in his life is feeling like he’s walking around in darkness – confusion – not knowing where the next step will lead him.

Job 29 Summary Verse 4

And then Job continues and he admits that the days before his awful trial were extremely productive and marked by close communion with God.

4 As I was in [the days of my youth/the prime of my days/my most productive time],
when the [secret/intimate friendship] of God was [upon/experienced in] my [tabernacle/tent];

Job 29 Summary Verse 5

And Job continues to speak of the relational closeness that he experienced before his trial – both with God – and now he even remembers his beloved departed children.

5 When the Almighty was [yet/still] with me,
when my children were [about/around] me;

Job 29 Summary Verse 6

And, as Job moves on, he claims that his life before this trial of his was characterized by “fatness.”

6 When [I washed my steps/my steps were bathed] with butter,
and the rock poured me out rivers of [olive…] oil;

And we tend to think in our day that fat is bad. But that’s just not how Job or the rest of Scripture presents things like butter and oil.

Instead, these foods are a sign of richness – a sign of smoothness – of abundance. It’s a good thing in Scripture.

In contrast, Job is characterizing his life during this trial as lean and course and gaunt.

Job 29 Summary Verse 7

And Job continues to reminisce about what his life was like before his trial. And in verse 7 Job starts to remember his place of prominence in the social and judicial realms.

7 When I went out to the gate [through/of] the city,
when I [prepared/took/secured] my seat in the [street/public square]!

So, in Job’s time, the city gate is where business was conducted. It’s where disputes were heard and judicial rulings were given.

And Job was an integral part of that environment. He took his seat in that setting – meaning that he was in some way in charge of the proceedings.

Job 29 Summary Verse 8

And Job admits that everyone – no matter how young or old – respected and revered him – that is, before he moved his operations from the city gate to the city’s trash heap.

8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves:
and the [aged/old men] [arose, and stood up/would get up and remain standing].

So, that was the reaction from young and old to Job. From the young – fear. From the old – a deep reverence and respect.

And I’ll admit that it’s hard to know if Job is making us of hyperbole here. Or he might just be engaging in wishful thinking that isn’t quite accurate at this point after so long a time of suffering.

So, this is Job speaking. He’s a fallen human. He’s a righteous man – but capable of dishonesty. And even if it’s not that bad – Job is capable of a phenomenon that’s very common among us. And that is – when remembering the past – remembering only the good and forgetting practically all of the bad – especially when your current situation is largely negative and difficult.

But thankfully, we don’t need to spend a lot of time guessing and surmising as to whether Job is speaking the absolute truth here. We know that what he’s saying is exactly how he feels. And that’s really all that’s important to know in this particular chapter.

Job is not giving us a theological lecture here. He’s simply describing how he perceives his past to be. And we’re going to see that what he ultimately wants to do – in the next chapter – is to contrast how things used to be with how things are right now for him.

Job 29 Summary Verse 9

Well, so, it’s not just young and old that respected and revered Job in the old days. Even princes and chief men of his society stood in awe of this man – as Job recalls.

9 The [princes/chief men] [refrained/stopped] talking,
and laid their hand on their mouth.

So, Job is picturing himself as something of a chief of the chief men. He was preeminent.

And that goes along with what we heard in chapter 1. This man was righteous. He was “the greatest of all the men of the east.”

And so, wise men even would be awed by Job’s wisdom. He was the best of the best. The brightest of the brightest. He knew it – God knew it – everyone knew it.

Job 29 Summary Verse 10

And Job continues to furnish evidence of that fact in verse 10.

10 The nobles [held their peace/voices were hushed/voices fell silent],
and their tongue [cleaved/stuck] to [the roof of their mouth/their palate].

So, it’s like no one could answer Job in the days before his trial.

And of course – contrast that to what Job has been experiencing for the last twenty-some chapters of this book. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are certainly not holding their peace. Their tongues are doing anything but cleaving to the roof of their mouths.

They all suspect Job of secret sin. No one has any respect for him any more.

So, Job has taken verses 1 through 10 to reminisce on how good God used to be to him. And of course, he’s lamenting the fact that God now seems to be doing just the exact opposite in his life.

Job 29 Summary Verses 11-17

And you know people in this life who receive this kind of response. Think of Kim Jong Un the ruler of North Korea – how do you think people respond when he walks into a room in the capital Pyeongyang?

Or what about some of these henchmen for the Islamic State – who rose to prominence based upon the degree of their brutality.

Do you suppose that young and old – wise and naïve all respond when these people come into their presence? I think so.

But why? And is the reason that people fear and respect brutal dictators and bloodthirsty Islamic clerics the same reason that people used to respond to Job the way that they did?

Well – we don’t need to guess. Because Job addresses in verses 11-17 why people responded to him the way they did and why he believes he received the blessing that he did before his trial began.

Job 29 Summary Verse 11

And Job introduces this section with verse 11 where he sets us up for what he’s about to tell us.

11 When the ear heard [me/these things], then it blessed me;
and when the eye saw [me/them], it [gave/bore] witness to me:

And you see in the KJV the word “me” in italics. But what that’s admitting is that that word isn’t in the Hebrew. But it’s something they added to make sense of the statements that Job is making.

But what others (the NET Bible) have suggested is that what Job is actually saying that “the ear heard” and “the eye saw” is not Job himself – but the godly righteous deeds that he admits to performing in the next several verses.

Job 29 Summary Verse 12

And so, Job starts this list of his historical righteous deeds that he thinks account for why God blessed him formerly.

12 [Because/For] I delivered the poor that cried [for help…],
and the fatherless, [and him/(blank)] that had none to help him.

So – here we have it. Job wasn’t eliciting fear and respect from others because of his violent despotic tendencies. He was feared and respected because he cared for the needy. And we can assume that he was doing this in some of his official legal and judicial capacities at the city gate.

In Job’s day, as it still is the case in many places in this world, those who have the least power have the least access to justice. But Job didn’t work that way. He feared God and turned away from evil. And one of the many results would have been that he delivered the poor that cried for help – even though he could have done otherwise.

Job 29 Summary Verse 13

And because Job acted with such integrity, he pictures it as if dying blessings were uttered upon him.

13 The blessing of [him that was ready to perish/the dying man] came upon me:
and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.

So, both the one who was in the process of dying and the one who would shortly be left behind in that relationship were blessing Job. And this was surely due to the various righteous things that Job did on their behalf.

Job 29 Summary Verse 14

And that’s what Job says in verse 14. He lived and operated in such a way that he could say that he actually wore righteousness as if it were clothing.

14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me:
my [judgment/justice] was as a robe and a [diadem/turban].

Job 29 Summary Verse 15

And again, Job reminds the ways he treated those who were needy in his society in verse 15.

15 I was eyes to the blind,
and feet was I to the lame.

So, he helped these individuals. On his watch he would not allow them to be abused and mistreated – as much as was in his power.

Job 29 Summary Verse 16

And Job continues to testify to his own blameless behavior toward the needy in verse 16.

16 I was a father to the [poor/needy]:
and the [cause/case] [of the person…] which I knew not I [searched out/investigated].

And I think that second assertion that Job makes is not him claiming that he was a good lawyer – like, he really looked into every case he took. I don’t think that’s it.

I think Job is saying that even if he didn’t know – not the cause – but the person – he would search out and investigate that person’s case – the case of the person he didn’t even know. He wouldn’t immediately dismiss it. He would do his best to make sure that person got justice.

Job 29 Summary Verse 17

So, Job has been speaking a lot about justice. He’s been asserting that he’s done so much to protect the innocent.

But – you know – justice is two-sided. There’s the matter of defending and protecting the innocent. But on the other side of the equation is prosecuting the perpetrators. And it’s that side to which Job turns in verse 17.

17 And I [brake/broke] the [jaws/fangs] of the wicked,
and [plucked/snatched away/made him drop] the spoil [out of/from] his teeth.

So, Job executed justice in his former days – and that’s why he believes God was blessing him.

And – by the way – I think Job is pointing to these realities to defend himself against his friends and their accusing him of secret wickedness against the poor and needy. He also probably has in mind that God maybe needs to hear this defense that he’s issuing – since it seems that God is treating him as if these things weren’t the case anymore.

Job 29 Summary Verse 18

But, because Job perceived that his situation was so good in the old days, he admits in verses 18-20 that he thought it would last forever.

18 Then I [said/thought],

I shall die in my [nest/own home],
and I shall multiply my days as the sand.

So, Job thought that he would die at home – not off at war or as a result of being punished for any crime. He would die in his nest – evoking images of a bird’s nest with its attendant comfort and security.

And then he thought that his days on this earth would be numerous – just like sand on the seashore.

Job 29 Summary Verse 19

And then I think that verse 19 is a continuation of Job’s self-talk – it’s a continuation of the matters concerning which he was extremely confident before God sent him this trial.

19 My root [was spread out by/is spread out to/reaches] the waters,
and the dew [lay/lies] all night upon my [branch/branches].

So, Job is comparing himself to a tree. And water in the form of rivers and dew would be very welcome to such a tree. Without water, trees die.

But Job had no concern for those depressing realities. He was just like a vibrant healthy tree soaking in all of the wonderful water – water from the earth in the form of rivers and water from the sky in the form of dew.

Job 29 Summary Verse 20

And then Job finishes this retelling of what he said in his prosperity in verse 20.

20 My glory [was/is ever/will always be] fresh in me,
and my bow [was renewed/ever new] in my hand.

So, Job thought that he would always be glorious – uniquely excellent. And in a related thought, he believed that his bow would never grow old – that is, his ability to defend and to conquer. That thing that’s made of wood and subject to becoming dry and old – Job thought that would never happen.

That’s what he’s been telling us in these last few verses.

Job 29 Summary Verses 21-25

Then Job closes this chapter by continuing to reminisce on how good life was for him in the old days before his trial from God.

Job 29 Summary Verse 21

And once again, Job focuses on the reactions that other people had to him. And I think he’s again wanting to remind these friends of how men who are more excellent than they are used to treat this man that they now despise.

21 Unto me men [gave ear/listened], and waited [silently…],
and kept silence [at/for] my [counsel/advice].

So, people listened for Job to speak. And then when he spoke and gave them advice they kept quiet.

Job was such a man that people sought advice from, then – which is always a sign that at least others perceive a person to be wise.

Job 29 Summary Verse 22

And then Job continues to describe how people used to love to hear him speak with a metaphor that’s really kind of humorous if you picture it literally – like most metaphors are…

22 After [my words/I had spoken] they [spake not again/did not respond];
and my [speech/words] [dropped/fell drop by drop] upon them.

So, once again Job references the fact that people just didn’t respond after Job declared something. He was so wise that no one had anything to add. They wouldn’t disagree with him – they’d make no contradictions – like these three friends are doing to him now.

And then the metaphor – his words were like refreshing rain drops to the people.

Now, let me say that we might feel kind of “rained-out” – like we’ve had enough of all the rain already. We’re just coming off an unusually wet spring. Farmers’ fields in the area are oversaturated with rain to the point of puddles standing in the fields.

So, erase that picture from your mind, and imagine the surface of the moon. Because oftentimes, that’s exactly what the ground looks like in the Middle East – with the exception of a few small shrubs here and there in the furrows where the minimal water that does fall tends to flow.

People in the Middle East are far less likely to get tired of rain than we are. And so, Job is saying that people would receive his advice and judgements on matters just like people who need water to survive would welcome a rain shower.

Job 29 Summary Verse 23

And that’s what Job goes on to say more explicitly in verse 23.

23 And they waited for me as [people wait…] for the rain;
and they opened their mouth wide as for the [latter/spring] rain.

So, in addition to giving water for their crops, Job’s contemporaries would be looking for rain for the purpose of drinking water. And if they didn’t get it they’d thirst to death. And that’s how Job compares his speech – it’s as if the people didn’t get his counsel, they would perish!

Job 29 Summary Verse 24

And if that’s how people perceived Job – almost as a super-human kind of character whose advice was as valuable and sought-after as life-sustaining rain, then it’s no surprise as to the reaction that he claims he would often get from people if he showed them some form of attention.

24 If I [laughed on/smiled at] them, they believed it [not/hardly];
and the light of my countenance they [cast not down/did not cause to darken].

So, even though common people couldn’t believe their good fortune to have the legendary Job smile at them, yet they warmly accepted that smile. In that sense, they didn’t “cast down” that demonstration of friendliness.

Job 29 Summary Verse 25

And then I think that the last verse in this chapter has Job sort of summarizing what he’s just been saying.

25 I chose out [their way/the way for them], and sat [as their…] chief,
and dwelt as a king [in the army/among his troops],
[as/ I was like] one that comforteth the mourners.

So, Job was advising people and basically choosing the way that they would go. He’s leading them like a king would lead his people. And he was merciful to the needy – he comforted the mourners.

And that last point is exactly what Job wants from these friends – some comfort. That’s why they came – but they have completely abandoned their original intent and are now just accusing Job of some nebulous and speculator wrongdoing.

Job 29 Summary Conclusion

And on top of that, all of these people – and even the lowest of them – whom Job used to treat right – well, they’re treating him poorly now that he’s the one in need. And we’ll see Job lament that fact next time.

Job 28 Commentary

Job 28 Commentary: It must have been a few years ago that I lost my wallet for over a week. I thought it was in the car, but I searched there several times with no luck.

I was about to start calling my financial institutions and having them cancel my cards and things like that – when I checked one last time thoroughly and systematically that car. And I found it – there it was – under the passenger side seat.

I had looked there before. But apparently not hard enough.

Certain things in this life are easy to find. While, others are quite difficult.

But in Job, chapter 28 we’re going to have Job tell us that there’s one thing that’s utterly impossible for mere mortals to find. And that thing is wisdom.

So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 28.

Now, we saw in the last chapter that Job was in agreement with his friends that – indeed – God does show his power against wicked men by punishing them.

But that causes Job to consider that he himself is receiving the fate of these wicked men – but he himself is righteous.

Job – a righteous man – even by God’s testimony – is suffering like the wicked are supposed to. And that makes no sense. He can’t understand God’s ways.

And as the message of this book goes, When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom in Our Circumstances.

But in this chapter that we’re going to be studying now, Job admits that God’s wisdom is really difficult to find.

Job 28 Commentary | Mankind can find some amazing things…

And what’s really interesting is that humankind has shown an amazing ability to find things that would seem to be nearly impossible to discover.

And so, this is what Job marvels at for the first 11 verses of this chapter – that there’s very little that’s hidden from human endeavor to discover it.

Job begins by speaking of mining precious metals.

KJV Job 28:1 Surely there is a [vein/mine] for [the silver/silver],
and a place for gold [where they fine/to refine] it.

Yes, there is a place for silver and gold. And what we need to recognize is that that place is not usually out in the open. You usually need to search for it and dig it up.

And Job goes on to highlight human endeavor to excavate these metals.

2 Iron is taken [out of/from] the [earth/dust/ground],
and [brass/copper] is [molten/smelted] [out of the/from] [stone/rock].

And so, verses 1 and 2 are Job pointing to the existence of hard-to-find metals.

And now, he’s going to focus on mankind’s ability to find these metals in the earth.

3 [He/Man] [setteth/puts] an end to darkness,
and searcheth out [all perfection/to the farthest limit/the farthest recesses]:

the [stones/rock/ore] [of darkness/in gloom],
and [the shadow of death/deep shadow/the deepest darkness].

This is describing the darkness that’s found in caves and other places in which mining activities are carried out. It’s dark down there – but mankind puts an end to that darkness and finds what its looking for.

And Job goes on to speak more of spelunking in caves as people search for previous metals.

4 [The flood breaketh/He sinks a shaft] [out/far] from [the inhabitant/habitation/where people live];
[even the waters forgotten of the foot/in places forgotten by travelers]:

they [are dried up/hang and swing to and fro/dangle and sway],
[they are gone away/far] from men.

Now, the word behind “flood” is translated elsewhere as “valley” 23 times. It’s then something like a rift or break in the earth. And the word behind “breaketh out” is also translated as “break in” or “break down.” And one more – “dried up” some other versions take to be describing the mining process of men dangling by ropes in the mine.

Whatever the particular details, Job is talking about mining and how amazing it is that humans can do this.

And then Job goes on to state that the appearance of the earth can conceal all this activity that he’s been saying goes on inside of it.

5 [As for the earth/The earth], [out of/from] [it/which] cometh [bread/food]:
and under it is [turned up/overturned] as it were [by…] fire.

And this could be speaking of the reality that we know of as plate tectonics – how the earth is made up of moving sliding plates gliding apparently on molten rock. That could be what Job is describing.

Otherwise, he’s just comparing the peaceful appearance of the earth above ground to what he’s been describing regarding what happens underground.

And then Job wants to point to the fact that the earth – and especially the area under the top soil – contains noteworthy treasures!

6 [The stones of it/Its rocks] are the [place/source] of sapphires:
and it [hath/contains] dust of gold.

The “it” in this verse of course is speaking of the earth. The earth contains sapphires and gold.

Then Job is going to – for several verses – emphasize the fact that what humans are able to discover within the earth is really quite unknown to most of the animal kingdom. Humans are in a unique position to access this exquisite treasure.

7 [There is a path/The path/A hidden path] which no [fowl/bird of prey] knoweth,
and which the [vulture’s/falcon’s] eye hath not seen:

So, no bird has seen the treasure hidden in these mines.

Further, no beast has seen it either.

8 [The lion’s whelps/Proud beasts] have not [trodden/set foot on] it,
nor the fierce lion passed [by/over/along] it.

And then Job turns from considering the fact that the treasure within the earth is hidden from animals. And he now is going to meditate on the ability of mankind to do this kind of work – of digging down into the earth and finding amazing treasures.

9 He putteth forth his hand upon the [rock/flint] [to work…];
he overturneth the mountains [by/at] the [roots/bases].

And so, in a sense, man is being like God here. God can overturn mountains in his power. And on a very smaller scale – mankind can do that, too.

And here’s more of what Job is marveling that man can do with the earth.

10 He [cutteth/hews/has cut] out [rivers/channels] [among/through] the rocks;
and his eye [seeth/have spotted] every precious thing.

And finally, mankind is able to hold back and conceal – and to reveal.

11 He [bindeth/dams up/has searched] the [floods from overflowing/streams from flowing/sources of the rivers];
and [the thing that is hid/what was (is) hidden] bringeth he [forth to/out into the] light.

So, Job is asserting that humans are able to discover the most fascinating and hidden things in this creation. That’s his point in verses 1 through 11.

Job 28 Commentary | But mankind is unable to find wisdom…

But Job isn’t merely concerned about gold and sapphires and mining. He’s not marveling at mankind’s abilities just to marvel.

No – Job has led us through all that people can find on this earth in order to magnify one thing that none of us can find. And that’s wisdom.

12 But where [shall/can] wisdom be found?
and where is the place of understanding?

Because we know where to find gold. You just dig with your hands and your tools in the right place in the earth and there it is. But where would you direct someone to find wisdom if you were Job with no Bible as we have it today? You can’t direct people to a location on earth where they can dig out or even buy wisdom and understanding.

And that’s because it’s not from “around these parts”!

13 [Man/Mankind] knoweth not [the price thereof/its value/its place];
neither [is/can] it found in the land of the living.

So, wisdom is not found in this world – and certainly not within the earth – like with jewels and such.

And so, who can discover how much it’s worth? If you want to figure out how much a certain piece of jewelry is worth, you bring it to an appraiser. He’ll look at it, examine it, and tell you based on his experience how much it’s worth.

But how do you get wisdom appraised? It’s real. And it’s incredibly valuable. But you can’t bring it in to your local jewelry store and let the man behind the counter estimate its value. You can’t appraise the physical value of something that you can’t find.

And it’s not just that mankind cannot find wisdom – Job even presents inanimate locations on the earth as testifying to the fact that even they can’t find wisdom and understanding within themselves.

14 The [depth/deep] saith,
It is not [in/with] me:

and the sea saith,
It is not with me.

And even if someone did know where it could be found, you would never have enough money to purchase it.

15 It cannot be [gotten/given] [for/in exchange for] [pure/fine…] gold,
neither [shall/can] silver be weighed for the price thereof.

And then Job is going to go on about how there’s nothing that can help you purchase wisdom – not even the precious metals and jewels that he’s already discussed.

16 It cannot be [valued/measured out for purchase] with the gold of Ophir,
with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.

And that’s because wisdom is unrivaled in value to anything else that a man can get.

17 The gold and the crystal cannot [equal/be compared with] it:
and the exchange of it shall not be for [jewels/articles/a vase] of fine gold.

And we just celebrated Mothers’ Day and were reminded of the virtuous woman whose worth was far above rubies. But a woman who fears the Lord is to be estimated in that way because the thing that she possesses – wisdom – is also valued like that.

18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of [pearls/crystal/jasper]:
for the price of wisdom is above [rubies/pearls].

And Job goes on to extol wisdom by telling us what cannot purchase it.

19 The topaz of Ethiopia [shall/cannot] [not equal/be compared with] it,
neither shall it be [valued/purchased] with pure gold.

And then Job utters what seems to be a refrain in this chapter because we saw a statement that was very similar in verse 12.

20 [Whence/From where] then cometh wisdom?
and where is the place of understanding?

Only in verse 12, Job asked where wisdom can be found. Here in verse 20, he asks from where it comes. But every other word is exactly the same – and really, even the two ideas of finding something and knowing where it comes from are almost identical.

And Job’s question is legitimate – because according to Job, no one knows the answer.

No creature or bird knows where wisdom comes from.

21 [Seeing/Thus/For] it [is hid/has been hidden] from the eyes of [all/every] living [creature…],
and [kept close/concealed] from the fowls of the air.

And not even destruction and death know where wisdom comes from – where its source on the earth is.

22 [Destruction/Abaddon] and death say,
We have heard [the fame thereof/a report of it/a rumor about where it can be found] with our ears.

So, mankind can find awesome things in this world. But no one can find wisdom. That’s what we’ve been taught by Job so far through verse 22.

Job 28 Commentary | Only God has wisdom…

No one can find wisdom. That is, no one – except for God.

And so, Job is going to make that point from verses 23-28 – God alone has wisdom.

23 God understandeth the way [thereof/to it],
and he [alone…] knoweth the place thereof.

He knows wisdom’s way and place. He knows how to access it.

Why? How can God know this when no one else does?

24 For he looketh to the ends of the earth,
and [seeth/observes] [everything…] under the [whole heaven/heavens];

So, God sees the whole picture. He’s not ignorant of anything. There’s nothing he doesn’t see.

God alone knows and perceives and sees everything. And therefore, he alone knows wisdom.

And so, Job seems to be using the terms wisdom and understanding to describe the ability to see the whole picture and act accordingly. Or to be in tune with reality – as only God knows it.

Job doesn’t have this ability. He doesn’t know what’s going on. God’s ways are confusing and making no sense to him.

God has wisdom – and Job feels like he himself is totally lacking it.

And then Job wants to go back to the beginning of creation and recall how God established wisdom.

God did this when he created the winds and the waters.

25 [To/When he] [make/imparted/made] [the weight/weight/the force] [for/to/of] the winds;
and he [weigheth/meted out/measured] the waters [by measure/with a gauge].

And that’s the same time in which he created the rain and thunder.

26 When he [made a decree/set a limit/imposed a limit] for the rain,
and a [way/course/path] for the [lightning of the thunder/thunder bolt]:

And what did God do at the time he created these forces – wind, water, rain, and thunder? He did what no man can do – he assessed the value of wisdom and scrutinized it.

27 Then did he see [it/wisdom], and [declare/assessed the value of] it;
he [prepared/established] it, yea, and [searched it out/examined it closely].

And so, that’s how Job pictures God coming to be acquainted with wisdom.

And then God communicated that to his human creatures.

28 And unto [man/mankind] he said,

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to [depart/turn away] from evil is understanding.

So, as humans we can’t find wisdom as we find other physical things. We need God to give it to us.

And that’s when God says – you want wisdom? Fear me. You want understanding – a rough equivalent of wisdom? Then turn from evil.

And we bring that to Job’s situation. Job is having great difficulty recognizing what reality even is anymore. Reality as Job knew it was that if he lived right, God would bless him. That’s what Job believed and its apparently what many others believed – at least if his three friends are any indication of the popular thinking of the time. Everyone was thinking that God rewards moral goodness with blessings. That was reality in their minds.

But Job is still doing good. But he’s not being blessed. It seems like God’s angry with him and punishing him. Job still is fearing the Lord and departing from evil. Why is this not seeming to help Job live in light of reality anymore?

And the answer to that of course is that reality is bigger than Job’s small view of how God works in the world. God is bigger than that. Reality is broader than any of our human minds can comprehend.

And while Job is ready to admit that in creation at-large, he’s not ready to trust that God is acting according to wisdom – the broad and complete view of things – in Job’s situation.

And that’s why next time we’re going to see Job wistfully relive all the blessings that once were his as he sought to fear the Lord.

Job 27 Commentary

Job 27 Commentary: The late Stephen Covey in his popular book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People tells of his own personal experience giving a perception test to numerous audiences.

His test involved showing a picture of an old woman to half of the group and a young woman to the other half. But neither half knew what he showed the other half of the audience.

Then he would show a composite picture of both a young woman and old woman together where both images are on the page.

And then he would have individuals from each half of the audience speak to each other about the picture and try to come to some consensus on what they saw in the picture.

He says that the results were predictable – the people who were shown the old woman before saw her in the composite picture. And the people who were shown the young woman saw that in the composite picture.

And what’s interesting is that sometimes these individuals would become angry at one another. Sometimes there would even be name-calling. And this is among adult professionals.

And we see a very similar situation occurring with the biblical character Job and his three friends. So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 27.

We’re going to see eventually in this chapter that both Job and his friends are in close agreement as to how God treats the wicked in this world. We’ll see him state that toward the end of this chapter.

And yet – you would have no idea that these men agreed about anything with how they’re talking to each other. And that’s how this chapter starts – with some more harsh words from Job directed against these three men who had come originally to comfort him.

Job 27 Commentary: A Defiant Response

So, in verses 1 through 6, Job gives a defiant response to his friends’ attempt to prove that he’s wicked.

KJV Job 27:1 [Moreover/Then/And] Job [continued/took up] his [parable/discourse (again)], and said,

2 As God liveth, who hath [taken away/denied] [my judgment/my right/me justice];
and the Almighty, who hath [vexed my soul/embittered my soul/made my life bitter];

And let’s stop there for a moment. Job is starting this chapter with an oath. “As God liveth…” That’s an oath formula.

And so, what’s to follow is then what Job is sure is or will be the case. As surely as God lives, this or that will be the case or won’t be the case.

But the problem is what he says about God. Yes – positively Job recognizes that God is living. He’s real. He’s not an idol. He lives.

But what does he accuse God of doing?

Of denying Job justice. And of vexing his soul or making his life bitter.

And while it’s true that God has made Job’s life difficult – it can hardly be said that God has denied Job justice. But Job is thinking that God is acting out of character – that he should only be punishing the wicked – and because he’s punishing Job who isn’t wicked – God is doing something wrong. God is being unjust, says Job!

And while we can understand why Job thinks the way he does, it doesn’t mean that he’s right. And in this case, he’s actually very wrong.

OK – but Job is making an oath as I say. So, let’s see what Job is giving an oath to – what he is swearing will or will not be the case…

3 [All the while/For as long as/For while] my [breath/life/spirit] is [still…] in me,
and the [spirit/breath] [of/from] God is in my nostrils;

4 My lips shall not speak wickedness,
nor my tongue [utter/mutter/whisper] deceit.

So, as long as Job lives he asserts that he will not lie. He’s not going to be wicked by saying things that are not true. He refuses to do that.

Well, but is there something in particular he has in mind? Is Job really just promising to not lie and that’s all? Or is he focusing in on one particular area where he especially refuses to say things that aren’t true?

And it becomes apparent that Job does have one area in mind. And that is that Job will not lie about his integrity simply to justify his friends and their assertions that Job is suffering because he’s an evildoer.

5 [God forbid/Far be it from me] that I should [justify you/declare you to be in the right]: [I will never do it!…]
till I die I will not [remove/put away/set aside] mine integrity from me.

And here’s how Job is thinking. His friends are promising him blessings like he had before his trials started – if he only turns from his sin and starts praying to God.

But Job knows that he’s not suffering because of sin. He’s remained righteous and is not at all involved in what his friends are claiming.

Now, a lesser man would cave in and just confess some fake sin in order to be back on God’s good side – if that were even possible.

But Job isn’t going to do that. The righteousness in his own life that assures him that his friends’ accusations against him are totally baseless is the same righteousness that will not allow him to pretend to repent just so that he can get all of his blessings back from God.

So – no – Job is not going to justify his friends and help them to prove their point. Because they’re totally wrong. Job is not suffering because of personal sin.

And that’s what he says to end this sub-section of this chapter.

6 My righteousness I [hold fast/maintain],
and will not let it go:

my heart [shall/does/will] not reproach me
so long as I live.

And some of this can sound almost self-righteous. But we need to recognize the power of polarization that Job is experiencing here.

You know what polarization is – it’s when there’s an issue that you’re either totally for it or completely against it. There’s no middle ground. There’s no moderate position.

Issues that tend to polarize groups of people in America would include abortion, homosexuality, race relations, the size and function of the federal government, and a whole host of other topics. You have a lot of people who are either totally for or against whatever issue it is and very few in between.

And for Job and his friends, the issue of why Job is suffering is very polarizing. The friends are completely convinced that Job has been involved in some very heinous – yet secret – sin. And that’s why Job is suffering – God is punishing him.

And so, as Job is simply trying to maintain what God has already said of him – that he’s righteous – Job is forced to emphasize that fact to the point of it sounding almost like ungodly boasting. And yet, he’s right in what he’s saying, I think.

Job 27 Commentary: Curses on Job’s Enemies (Friends!?)

So, after uttering an oath to maintain his righteousness and integrity in the first six verses of this chapter, now Job turns to utter a curse against his enemies in verses 7-10. And in the context, I do believe that Job is directing this curse at these three men who originally came to comfort him.

7 Let mine enemy be as the wicked,
and [he that riseth up against me/my opponent/my adversary] as the unrighteous.

So, Job is distinguishing a bit between his enemy and the wicked. Or he that rises up against Job and the unrighteous.

He’s not saying that his friends are wicked and unrighteous – and so in that way he’s being a bit more courteous to these men than they’re being to him.

But at the same time, Job is cursing them. He’s calling on God to do something negative to them. He asks God to cause these men to meet with the fate of the wicked – the fate that they keep associating with Job himself.

So, he wants these men to have no hope in this life or the next.

8 For what is the hope of the [hypocrite/godless], [though/when] he [hath gained/is cut off],
when God taketh away his [soul/life]?

Further, Job wants God to not hear the prayers of his friends.

9 Will God [hear/listen to] his cry
when [trouble/distress] [cometh upon/overtakes] him?

And finally, Job wishes that these friends never know the reality of having God to delight in and call upon – for eternity.

10 Will he [delight himself/take delight/find delight] in the Almighty?
will he [always/at all times] call [upon/out to] God?

So, once more we realize that this is serious business for Job and these men. These four men are not calmly debating the theology of suffering. They’re at each other’s throats! Job is at the point where he’s actually cursing them and praying for very bad things to happen to them.

Job 27 Commentary: Job Teaches the Friends

And part of Job’s reason for this is that these men have continued to take it upon themselves to teach Job as if they knew more than he does.

And yet, now Job is wanting to teach them a thing or two.

11 I will teach you [by/about] the [hand/power] of God:
that which is [with/on the mind of] the Almighty will I not conceal.

So, Job wants to teach these men about God’s power.

And Job really marvels at how they could miss it and not understand it as they ought.

12 Behold, all [ye yourselves/of you/of this you have] have seen it;
[why then/why in the world] [are ye thus altogether vain/do you act foolishly/do you continue this meaningless talk]?

So, Job says that if these men knew God’s power they would have stopped talking a long time ago.

Job 27 Commentary: The Wicked

And so, for the rest of the chapter Job is going to focus on the punishment that the wicked receive from God.

But what does that have to do with the power of God? And how can Job say that if these men knew this then they would stop all their incessant talking?

Because, really, this is most of what they’ve been saying for a long time now. They’ve said what Job is going to say to the end of this chapter.

But I think that’s what Job is getting at. These friends have not needed to continually belabor this point that God punishes wicked men – because Job absolutely agrees. Yes, God does punish people who do wrong – who sin against him and others.

Now, Job is also willing to recognize times when God doesn’t immediately punish sin – he made that point a few chapters ago. But Job is going on the record in this chapter as saying that he believes that God really does punish evildoers.

And so, Job wants these three to feel as though they never ever need to speak of this topic again.

13 This is the portion of a wicked man [with/from/allotted by] God,
and the [heritage/inheritance] of [oppressors/tyrants/evildoers], which they shall receive of the Almighty.

And so, now Job is going to tell the friends what wicked men receive from God.

First, they might have a lot of children – but these children will ultimately die and/or starve.

14 [If/Though] his children [be multiplied/are many/increase], [it is/they are destined] for the sword:
and his offspring [shall not be satisfied with bread/never have enough to eat].

15 Those that [remain of/survive] him shall be buried [in death/because of the plague]:
and [his/their] widows shall not [will not/are not able to…] weep [for them…].

So, the family of a wicked person has a very hard and dangerous life. And ultimately, if any members of the man’s family survive him, they won’t miss him all that much. That’s what Job is claiming – and he’s claiming that this is how God’s power is displayed against evil people.

Next, Job states that an evil person may be rich – but ultimately that will all be taken from him and given to those who are more deserving.

16 [Though/If] he [heap/piles] up silver as the dust,
and prepare [raiment/garments] as [the/mounds of] clay;

17 He may prepare it,

but [the just/a righteous man] shall [put it on/wear it],
and the innocent shall [divide the/inherit his] silver.

Furthermore, Job asserts that wicked people are temporary in this life without a solid foundation.

18 He buildeth his house as a moth[‘s cocoon…],
and as a [booth/hut] that the [keeper/watchman] maketh.

And not only is the dwelling place of wicked people temporary – so is his very life.

19 The rich man shall lie down, [he goes to bed rich…]
but he shall not be gathered: [and will never do so again…]

he openeth his eyes,
and [he/it] is [not/all gone].

Then Job pictures evildoers as being terrified by God’s onslaught against them.

20 Terrors [take hold on/overtake/overwhelm] him as [waters/a flood],
a [tempest/whirlwind] stealeth him away in the night.

21 The east wind carrieth him away, and he [departeth/is gone]:
and as a storm [hurleth/it whirls/it sweeps] him out of his place.

22 For [God shall cast upon/it will hurl at(against)] him, [and not spare/without pity]:
he would [fain/try to] flee [out of/from] [his hand/its power].

So, that’s how God treats these evil people.

But now Job is going to mention how men treat them in response to God’s punishing them.

23 [Men/It] shall clap their hands at him [in derision…],
and shall hiss him out of his place.

But I’ll just mention as well that the word “Men” is in italics in the KJV which means that that’s not there in the Hebrew text. It’s something the translators did to aid in understanding – but they’re acknowledging that they were making an interpretational decision.

So, there’s also the possibility that “Men” should be read as “it” – that is, the east wind or storm that Job was talking about as overtaking the wicked and being sent by God.

Either way, Job paints a really bleak picture for wicked people in this chapter. Job is not soft on those who hate God. And he really believes this. And he’s trying to show his friends that this really is how he thinks.

And yet – several of these things that Job has mentioned sound a lot like how God is treating him. And God treating him like this would be fine – if he were evil. But Job is actually righteous.

And that’s why in the very next chapter that we’ll study next time Lord-willing – Job is going to speak of his inability to find wisdom. He’s having no success in making God’s ways make sense to him. Everything is confusing.

And we’ve seen Job trust God’s wisdom. Yes – Job trusts God’s wise dealings in nature all around him. He’s testified to that fact in this book – even in recent chapters.

But where Job needs to grow and mature is in the matter of trusting God’s wisdom – not solely regarding how he runs the creation – but regarding how he’s dealing in Job’s life.

So, we’ll see Job wrestle with this reality next time.

Job 26 Commentary

Job 26 Commentary: Have you ever been party to an argument in which both people are making the same points – but somehow amazingly both are in disagreement?

Well, this is exactly the situation that the biblical character Job finds himself in – in Job chapter 26. So let’s turn our attention to Job 26.

And in this chapter, Job is responding to the last short speech by his friend Bildad. And in that speech, Bildad basically pointed to God’s power and to the inability of a person like Job to be viewed as righteous by God.

And we’re going to see Job being very frustrated in chapter 26 partly because he and Bildad basically see eye-to-eye on the matter of God’s power. Job’s not at all disagreeing with Bildad on that point. And he’s going to make that abundantly clear a few verses into this chapter.

But before he gets to that, Job wants to express his utter disgust for his friend’s unhelpful speech to him in the last chapter.

Job 26 Commentary: Job’s Not Happy With Bildad’s Speech | 1-4

And so, Job begins his response to Bildad’s last speech with biting sarcasm that’s meant to inform Bildad that his words were no help whatsoever to him.

KJV Job 26:1 [But/Then] Job [answered and said/responded/replied],

2 [How hast thou helped/What a help you are to/How you have helped] [him that is without power/the weak/the powerless] [?/!]
[how savest thou/How you have saved] [the arm/the person] that hath no strength [?/!]

So, Job is the one without power. He’s the arm that has no strength. He needs to be helped. He needs to be saved – rescued – delivered from his problems.

But instead of helping and saving Job, Bildad’s speech did nothing of the sort.

And, we also need to note that Job’s not asking questions here – like how did you do that? He’s pretending to marvel – like what an excellent wonderful job you just did there!

And taken at face value, Job is being very complimentary to Bildad. But that’s the force of sarcasm. The listener will try to process it like normal communication and it makes no sense – because it’s just the opposite of what the communicator really thinks.

And surely Bildad knew that Job was not pleased with what he said in the last chapter. And to have Job basically extol his words would be unexpected, to say the least. And when Bildad figured out that Job was not literally truthful in his statements, he would have been very insulted.

Job 26 Commentary: More Sarcasm

Well, Job continues with his sarcastic statements in verse 3.

3 [How hast thou counselled/What counsel you have given to/How you have advised] him that hath no wisdom [?/!]
[and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is/what helpful insight you have abundantly provided] [?/!]

Now, Job does not consider himself to be without wisdom. He’s made that clear throughout this book as he’s been trying to defend himself against the accusation of his friends that he’s secretly wicked.

But Job is saying here that if he was one of those who lacked wisdom, Bildad’s speech was so incredibly helpful! It was fantastic counsel to him. Bildad plentifully declared the thing as it is. He gave wonderfully abundant and helpful insight…

And of course, Job truly means none of this. His real feelings concerning Bildad’s speech are just the opposite.

Job would believe that Bildad proved himself to have no wisdom. His counsel was worthless. His plentiful declarations were plentiful – but not helpful at all to Job.

Bildad’s whole point in chapter 25 seemed to be that no one can possibly be righteous in God’s estimation. The friends had tried to catch Job in some particular sin. And as a last-ditch effort, Bildad as the final speaker for the friends throws out the idea that it’s just not possible to be innocent before God and so basically every punishment for sin we receive is just to be expected. Because no one’s ultimately innocent.

But this line of reasoning doesn’t help Job. He’s receiving bad from God for absolutely no cause that he’s aware of. Job has done nothing to prompt God to bring this supposed punishment on him – except for being what Bildad says is impossible for man to be – righteous before God.

Job 26 Commentary: Questions for Bildad

And so, Job moves on from sarcasm to questioning Bildad. And in verse 4, Job wants to know two things: 1) Does Bildad know whom he’s speaking to and 2) Does Bildad know what he’s saying?

4 To whom hast thou uttered words?
and whose spirit [came from/was expressed through/has come forth from the mouth of] thee?

So, Job wants Bildad to think both about who Job is and about who Bildad is.

As for Job – we know he’s righteous. God said so in the first two chapters of this book. Job is also wise. He’s thought through his situation and his theology. He’s not one to whom Bildad should feel obliged to utter simplistic and unhelpful sayings.

And as for Bildad himself – when Job asks whose spirit came from him, I wonder if he’s getting at the fact that Bildad pretty much lifted most of what he said in chapter 25 from one of Eliphaz’s earlier speeches.

So, Job doesn’t need rehashed speeches from Bildad.

And that’s how Job ends his initial volley of responses to Bildad’s short and unhelpful speech.

Job 26 Commentary: God’s Wisdom | 5-14

And so, for the rest of this chapter, Job starts to speak wisdom as he knows it. The friends keep trying to correct Job on his understanding of how God works in this world. And so now, Job wants to show them that he’s not ignorant of at least some of the ways that God works in this creation.

And Job starts to speak of God’s awesome ways in verse 5 by noting how even the dead tremble before God.

5 [Dead things/The departed spirits/The dead] [are formed from/tremble]
[under/those beneath] the waters, and [the inhabitants thereof/all that live in them].

So, dead things or dead people and all creatures who are in the waters tremble before God.

The reference to those beneath the waters is probably to dead people for two reasons. First, it’s parallel to the reference to dead things or people in the first line of verse 5.

Job 26 Commentary: Sheol

And second, Job continues in verse 6 to speak of the place of the dead – Sheol.

6 [Hell/Sheol/The underworld] is naked before [him/God],
and [destruction/Abaddon/the place of destruction] [hath no covering/lies uncovered].

So, those things that are so fearful to mortal men – those things actually fear God.

And I wonder if Job is responding here to Bildad’s first statement from the last chapter. Bildad in chapter 25 said that “fear” belongs to God – it’s owed him – he deserves people and creatures and all things to quake and tremble before him.

And Job is now saying – That’s right! I agree with you on that point! But I’ll tell you that this isn’t the case for the living only – no – even the dead tremble before God.

Job 26 Commentary: Things Above

And so, Job was just considering those below and under. But now in verse 7 he changes the direction of his thinking to those things that are above.

7 [He/God] [stretcheth/spreads] out the [north/northern skies] over [the empty place/empty space],
and [hangeth/He suspends] the earth upon nothing.

So, Job pictures God’s awesome power in that he – as it were – takes the northern sky and just stretches it like a blanket.

But if you’re going to spread a blanket out you need to have something to lay it on.

But that’s where God is so superior and awesome. He takes the blanket that is the northern skies poetically – and he stretches it out alright – but he doesn’t need anything to lay it on. It’s literally laying on nothing – absolutely nothing. Amazing.

And it’s not just the sky that God so easily manipulates in amazing ways. Think bigger – not the sky – but the earth God just hangs or suspends out in space.

But usually when you hang something – a picture or clothing – you have something to hang them on. But Job says that in God’s case, he hangs the earth on absolutely nothing.

And have you ever really thought about that? That the ground on which you live and rely on is anchored to absolutely nothing that’s visible or apparent in any way.

How does this happen? How did this come to be? Who decided that it should be this way?

It’s God who made this so. And – truth be told – we don’t understand it and never will fully. We can only marvel at this God who is so wise and powerful.

We might not understand his ways, but we must trust his wisdom. Job is starting to adopt this posture – but he’s not there yet.

Job 26 Commentary: Clouds and Rain

And so, Job keeps his focus upward in verse 8. His head is – as it were – in the clouds. Or at least his mind is.

8 He [bindeth up/wraps up/locks] the waters in his thick clouds;
and the cloud [is not rent/does not burst] [under/with the weight of] them.

And I wonder if you’ve ever noticed how heavy liquid really is.

I learned this lesson when I worked for Pepsi over a summer while I was in college at UW-Whitewater. I was amazed at how much strength it took to lift those 2-liter bottles of soda! It wore me out.

2 liters of liquid is heavy.

But have you ever thought of how much rain comes down in a typical storm? It’s enough to flood mighty rivers!

And yet, how does God – in his awesome wisdom – choose to hold that heavy abundant rain until he’s ready for it to fall?

If you were trying to figure out the best material to hold such an enormous quantity and weight of water – I’m guessing that your first choice would not be to use… a cloud!

Because – despite all appearance from here on earth – clouds are not at all solid. They’re basically floating water vapor.

So…holding water within… water? Would you have thought of that? God did!

Job 26 Commentary: Clouds Obscure the Moon

And God doesn’t use clouds only to hold rain. He has another purpose for them, according to verse 9.

9 He [holdeth back/obscures/conceals] the face of [his throne/the full moon],
and spreadeth his cloud [upon/over] it. [thereby shrouding it…]

So, God fills clouds with rain in his wisdom and in his wisdom, he doesn’t let the weight of the rain burst the clouds.

But also, God uses clouds to hold back the face of his throne.

Now, we need to realize that two words in that line seem to have another possible meaning.

The word behind “holdeth back” is also used by the KJV to mean “enclose.” So, God encloses something with his clouds. And if you look at the parallel statement – when we speak of God enclosing this something with clouds, he’s doing that when he “spreadeth” that cloud upon it.

OK, but what is the “it” that God is spreading his cloud upon? The KJV here says that it’s God’s “throne” that he’s enclosing with a cloud. And so, perhaps Job is saying that God’s throne is up in the heavens and then sometimes God in his wisdom covers the heavens – where his throne is – and thereby he covers that throne.

But there’s another issue. And that is that the word translated as “throne” is very similar to the word for “moon.” And in that case, this phrase still makes sense. God spreads clouds over the moon so that we can’t see it.

Job 26 Commentary: The Ocean

So, Job’s train of thought as he considers God’s wisdom started with dead things and things “below.” Then it moved to the heavens and things “above.”

And now Job’s mind shifts to consider the ocean – and in particular, the way that light and darkness meet there.

10 He [hath compassed the waters with bounds/has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters/marks out the horizon on the surface of the waters],
[until the day and night come to an end/at (or as) the bounday of (or between) light and darkness].

So, Job says that God sets boundaries on something – and that this boundary is visible on the waters – the vast oceans of this world.

So, picture the globe in your mind. And imagine that the Sun is shining on this globe. But of course, the Sun can’t be shining everywhere on that globe at once – right? If the Sun is on the left side of the globe, then the right side will be dark. And vice versa.

But here’s what I’m getting at. There’s a boundary on that globe for light. It goes so far and then it stops. And when the light stops, what begins? Darkness.

Where light ends and darkness begins – and vice versa – that’s a boundary.

And that’s what Job is talking about. God in his awesome wisdom made it so that this kind of thing happens on the face of this world. And since so much of this world is water, often this boundary line is found right there – on the waters. That’s where both day and night come to an end. That’s their boundary.

Job 26 Commentary: Earthquakes and Mountains

And from there, it seems that Job goes on to discuss the effect that earthquakes have on mountains.

11 The pillars of heaven tremble
and are [astonished/amazed] at his [reproof/rebuke].

Now, I’m taking the “pillars of heaven” to be speaking of mountains – as if the mountains are so tall that they appear to hold the heavens – the sky – up [H. H. Rowley (Job [NCBC], 173)].

And – by the way – this is not how Job literally thought this worked. Job didn’t think that the heavens were held up by mountains.

How do I know that? Because in this chapter he already said that the sky is hung on nothing.

So, Job is poetically portraying what it seems like the mountains do – hold up the heavens.

But these mighty structures – which seem to be utterly immovable – have a certain reaction. They tremble. And they’re astonished.

When? Under what circumstances? When God reproves or rebukes them.

Well, when does he do that?

So, let’s think of what would cause a mighty mountain to tremble – to move back and forth… How about an earthquake? I think that’s it.

So, God is so awesomely powerful that he can bring about a natural disaster which makes one of the mightiest features of this earth – a mountain – to tremble.

Job 26 Commentary: Calming

But then Job wants to give a contrast to that picture. God doesn’t just cause fear and trembling. He also calms and stills with his wisdom.

12 He [divideth/quieted/stills] the sea [with/by] his power,
and by his [understanding/wisdom] he [smiteth through/shattered/cut to pieces] [the proud/Rahab/the great sea monster].

Now, when the KJV says “divideth” in verse 12 – we also need to recognize that that word is used elsewhere in the KJV as “rest” (5x) and “ease” (1x).

So, God gives rest and ease to the sea. And he does this with his power. God’s power doesn’t simply cause panic and dread. It can also have a calming effect.

But then that second line. The KJV makes sense when it communicates that God smites through the proud. And he does it with his understanding.

And this is a contrast to the first line. Yes, God calms the sea with his power. But at the same time, God uses his understanding to strike the proud. Sometimes God needs to strike the proud in order to achieve calm in this world.

Now, that word “proud” is the Hebrew word Rachab. And that has nothing to do with the biblical character who lived in Jericho – just in case you were wondering. No, this Rachab is apparently a mythological sea monster – in addition to being the word to label people as “proud.”

So, it could be that Job is talking about God shattering or cutting to pieces or smiting through this mythological sea monster. But, I think we’d have to recognize that God doesn’t believe in or subscribe to mythology. He’s not tricked by myths. But this isn’t God speaking here – it’s Job – who was not an Israelite and who – as we’ve seen already – had some flawed ideas in other areas of life.

So, Job could very well be speaking of a mythological sea monster. But even if he is – he’s telling these friends of his that God can kill this kind of monster if it even existed.

So, whether God is destroying the proud or a make-believe sea monster, the message is the same. God’s wisdom is not just bent on calming things and it’s not focused solely on destroying things. God is nuanced in his use of his own understanding and power.

Job 26 Commentary: The Sky

And then Job moves on from considering the sea to once again considering the sky.

13 By his [spirit/breath] he hath [garnished/cleared/made fair] the [heavens/skies];
his hand hath [formed/pierced] the [crooked/fleeing] serpent.

So, once again, the first line of this verse is fairly straightforward and the second line leaves us scratching our heads.

God clears the skies with his breath. That word translated in the KJV as “garnished” occurs only once in the Old Testament – right here. And there’s consensus nowadays that this word means “clearness.”

So, God clears the heaven or the sky with his spirit – which is the same word as is used to speak of breath – ruach. Simple enough.

But then we’re told that God formed the crooked serpent.

That word “formed” is translated elsewhere in the KJV as “pain” (6x), “pained” (4x), “grieve” (2x), and “wounded” (2x). So, God caused pain and grief and wounds to this serpent.

And the fact that Job speaks of this as if it were a historical event makes some believe that here again he’s speaking of some pagan myth. This crooked serpent is perhaps a sea monster. In fact, there’s some thought that this might be referring to Leviathan (W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan; idem, BASOR 53 [1941]: 39.)

And even though God later on portrays Leviathan as just an animal, perhaps Job is saying that God has power over even these pagan mythological beings.

Whatever he’s saying about this serpent, I think once again – like in the last verse – Job is pointing to the fact that God can use his wisdom – even his spirit – to clear the sky and make some beautiful weather. But at the same time, God can do violent actions – like wound this serpent – whatever it is.

Job 26 Commentary: We Know So Little of God

And finally, Job ends this chapter with an admission that though he’s spoken of several areas of God’s ways that display his awesome wisdom – Job knows that he hasn’t even scratched the surface!

14 [Lo/Behold/Indeed], these are [parts/the fringes/the outer fringes] of his ways:
[but how/and how/how] [little/faint] a [portion/word/whisper] is heard of him [?/!]
but [the thunder of his power/his mighty thunder] who can understand?

And so, I think that Job is implicitly advocating some measure of humility here. He’s praising and extolling God’s understanding that causes him to act in certain ways. And he’s admitting that neither he nor these friends of his really even get more than a glimpse of all of God’s ways.

And as an example, he ends the chapter with a mention of thunder – like how does that even work?!

And what’s so interesting is that Job speaks of God’s ways. And he implies that there are times in which humans just can’t understand God’s ways.

God’s ways…

And that should remind us of the message of this book – when we can’t understand God’s ways, we must trust his wisdom.

Job is getting to this point where he will trust God’s wisdom. He’s marveling at God’s wisdom right here – but he hasn’t yet just rested in God to do the wise thing in his life. Job sees and praises God’s wisdom all around him in nature. But he has yet to show an ability to see and praise God’s wisdom in his own circumstance.

He’s getting there. But he’s not there yet. And so we’ll see Job next time continue speaking – and he’ll start with defending his righteousness and integrity.

Job 25 Commentary

Job 25 Commentary: The God who created the universe has revealed himself in a book. The book that we hold in our hands. The Holy Scripture.

And there are numerous facts that we can gain about God from creation. But without this book we are left in the dark about much of what God is like and what he requires of his creatures.

And whenever we assume things to be true about God – without consulting his book – we are in danger of getting things really wrong.

This is the fate of the biblical character whose name is Bildad. We find him in the 25th chapter of the Old Testament book of Job.

And he’s continuing to assume certain things about God – apparently without much or even any biblical guidance and data – at least, not enough to come to right conclusions about the situation that his friend Job has been facing.

And at first, Bildad and his two friends came to Job – they had heard of his trials – and they intended to comfort him.

But we’ve seen through these last 24 chapters that whatever these men were doing – it was not comforting to Job.

And so, Job has just finished chapter 24 where he was arguing that evil people oftentimes go unpunished in this life – which would have been a rather scandalous thought to a man like Bildad whose assumptions about God and the world were very dearly-held – and yet apparently not informed by biblical data.

And Bildad didn’t like Job’s last speech in which he attempted to defend himself against the friends’ accusation that he was secretly wicked.

And so, Bildad is going to speak out against Job for the third and last time in this book.

Job 25 Commentary: God is Awesome and Powerful

And so, Bildad is going to start this extremely brief rebuttal to Job’s last speech – you can see that it’s six verses – by declaring that God is awesome and totally powerful.

KJV Job 25:1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

2 Dominion and [fear/awe/awesome might] [are with/belong to] [him/God],
[he maketh/who establishes/he establishes] peace in his [high places/heights].

So, the first line of Bildad’s comment makes pretty straightforward sense. He’s declaring that God is powerful. He rules everything. He has dominion. That belongs to him.

Job 25 Commentary: Fear in the Book of Job

Also fear belongs to God. That is, he deserves to be feared by his human creation. And in the book of Job, this is a fear that is not necessarily the reverential awe that we often identify as a wholesome healthy fear.

In the book of Job, the word translated as fear here is spoken by Job in chapter 3 as his response to certain things that God had now brought into his life. He never wanted to have to deal with them ever – but now God has thrust them upon him.

Eliphaz says that this fear is his reaction to that crazy night vision that he reportedly saw back in chapter 4.

Job threatened the friends back in chapter 13 that if they keep showing partiality against him that this fear will end up being their response to when God comes and reproves them – which is just what happens at the end of this book.

Eliphaz in chapter 15 says that evil people experience sounds that elicit this fear as they’re resting and at ease.

Job then says – on the contrary in chapter 21 – that actually evil people don’t experience this kind of fear because God seems to never punish them.

Then Eliphaz once more appeals to Job to realize that he’s experiencing this kind of fear as a result of his sin.

And Job basically agrees in chapter 23 – yes, he is afraid of God in this way because of God’s mysterious and seemingly-harsh treatment of him.

And so, I mention all seven of those references to this word fear in the book of Job to point out that this is not the wholesome fear of the Lord that a book like Proverbs speaks of. The way that people in the book of Job are thinking about this fear is a slavish emotion based upon punishment.

And this is the kind of emotion that now Bildad is asserting is due to God. He admits that God elicits this kind of fear.

Job 25 Commentary: Second Line

OK, so the first line of this verse is straightforward. What’s a bit more difficult is what he’s talking about in the second line of the verse that we just read.

What does Bildad mean when he says that God makes peace in his high places?

Job 25 Commentary: High Places in Job

There are five references to this location in the book of Job. This obscure reference to this place in this verse is – of course – one of those five.

In chapter 16 Job insists that this location is where his witness and his advocate are. The only one who can plead his case is there – in the heights. And I argued there that he’s speaking of God. So, where God is – that’s this place.

Chapter 32 has Job speaking of God being above and the Almighty being in this place referenced in Bildad’s speech.

Then there are two other references that speak more of a state of existence – where you were at one point low and humble and weak – but God has changed things and so now you’re really “on high” or in “high places.”

But that’s not what Bildad is talking about here. He’s talking about God’s dwelling place – in the heavens – on high.

Job 25 Commentary: Making Peace

And so, God does something in that place in which he dwells. Bildad says that he makes or establishes peace – shalom – there.

And this peace as it’s spoken of in this book focuses on the safety that one would expect – or at least hope for – in the comfort of one’s own home.

And no doubt that God does that – though the book of Revelation seems to indicate that there is even now some amount of war there due to Satan’s activities. Even the first two chapters of this very book indicate that there isn’t total peace in the heavens. Remember Satan coming to God and accusing God and Job of impropriety – once God mentioned Job to Satan, that is?

Yeah, so not all is right in the heavens. God certainly at any moment would be able to bring about peace. And he will someday. But that hasn’t happened yet – and it hasn’t happened – by his own sovereign plan and design.

Job 25 Commentary: A Strong Military Presence

OK, well, how does Bildad say that God makes and establishes peace where he dwells on high in heaven? According to verse 3 – he does this by a strong military presence.

3 Is there any number of his armies? [Can his armies be numbered?…]
and upon whom doth not his light arise?

And again – like verse 2 – verse 3 presents us with a first line that’s fairly easy to understand and then a second line that is a little over our heads initially.

Job 25 Commentary: First Line

Bildad began verse 3 by asking a rhetorical question. The point of the question is to say that God’s armies are so numerous that there’s no possible way that they could be counted.

And even though that’s fairly simple, it’s interesting to note that the word for armies is not Sabaoth or the word from which we get “hosts” as in “the LORD of Hosts.”

Rather, it’s actually a word that Job used earlier in chapter 19 to describe the way he felt God was treating him. And that was that God was sending these armies or troops against him in wave after wave of crushing punishment.

So, Bildad is looking at these armies rather positively. But for Job, these armies represent a very confusing defeat and destruction from God’s hand.

Job 25 Commentary: Second Line

So, that first line is pretty simple. But that second line again. What does that mean?

Job 25 Commentary: Light

Well, Job in chapter 24 had spoken several times about light. And in that context, he was asserting that there are numerous evil people who rebel against the light. They don’t want to know its ways or abide in its path.

And the way that Job speaks about light there in chapter 24 is kind of unique to this book up to that point.

Leading up to that chapter, Job spoke of light and used that to symbolize life. For example, he spoke of miscarriages who never see the light. That is, they don’t get to enjoy living in God’s world here and now.

But that’s not what Job is talking about in chapter 24. There, he’s using that term to speak of moral light. Not physical light – but moral principles and guidance from God. Those mindsets and philosophies and practices that – when followed – act as a light would function on a dark and dangerous trail. That’s what Job means when he was talking about the light in the last chapter.

And so, perhaps here now in chapter 25 Bildad is reacting to that. He’s trying to argue that everyone has God’s light. No one is hidden from God in darkness – like Job was asserting in the last chapter. Everyone – and all their sin – is revealed by God’s wonderful light.

Job 25 Commentary: How this Applies to Job

And of course, then Bildad is hinting that Job himself is not able to hide from God either. In Bildad’s mind, Job is meeting with the consequences of not being able to escape from God’s armies or escape from his light.

Bildad would assert that God is making peace in his heavens by punishing Job for his secret sin – which Job surely thought was outside of God’s notice.

Job 25 Commentary: None is Righteous

And in light of the fact that God is aware of everything – and that no one can escape his notice – then Bildad goes on to argue in verse 4 that no one could ever possibly be considered righteous by God.

4 How then can man be [justified/just/righteous] [with/before] God?
or how can he be [clean/pure] that is born of a woman?

And when Bildad asks this question, he’s not even thinking of what our minds go to immediately as New Testament Christians.

We read this and we start thinking that Bildad is denying that salvation from our sin is a result of being justified by our faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, Bildad may have disagreed with that – we don’t know – but that’s not what he’s talking about here. Instead, Bildad is doing two things.

First, he’s responding to Job’s insisting that he is right or righteous or justified or just. It’s all the same way to translate the Hebrew word that Bildad uses here and that Job has used as he’s been insisting to these friends of his that he is in the right and is not guilty of sin that’s bringing God’s chastening.

Job has claimed that his righteousness is still intact. He declares that even though he’s right he wouldn’t be able to answer God and though he’s righteous his mouth would condemn him – as in he can’t seem to find a way to plead his case and prove his righteousness to God. Later on, Job declares that he knows that he will be vindicated – same word translated as righteous here. And so, Job has said many time and in many ways what God acknowledged of his to Satan in the beginning of this book. The man is righteous.

And meanwhile – just as sure as Job is of his righteousness – his three friends are just as sure of his complete lack of it.

And so, Bildad – following the practice laid down by these three men already – is saying – there is no way that you will be justified before God. Because Bildad was just asserting that God knows all. No one escapes his light – not the evil people that Job mentioned in chapter 24 and not Job himself who is experiencing chastening for his sin – according to the friends’ view of reality.

So, Bildad is denying that Job is righteous before God – or that Job could even possibly be righteous before and vindicated by and justified by God. It’s impossible, he says.

And second though, Bildad is simply borrowing and rearranging a statement used by Eliphaz earlier in this book from chapter 15.

And so, I think this shows a lack of creativity and original thought on Bildad’s part. He’s really just mimicking what he’s heard Eliphaz say.

And this reality of Bildad’s simply restating a question used by Eliphaz against Job earlier might be what makes Job cut him and the other two friends off after this chapter closes.

Job 25 Commentary: Greater to Lesser

Now, from that initial argument – that no one – and especially not Job – can be justified or vindicated by God – Bildad goes on to try to offer proof of this fact.

And Bildad in verses 5 and 6 is going to offer a greater to lesser argument. That is, if this reality is true of greater things – which is verse 5, then surely it applies to lesser things – in verse 6.

And in this case, the greater things are heavenly bodies – verse 5.

5 Behold even [to the moon, and it shineth not/the moon has no brightness/the moon is not bright]; [in God’s sight…]
yea, the stars are not pure [in his sight/as far as he is concerned].

So, Bildad asserts that the moon is not bright to God. And he’s right about that if what he means is that God doesn’t need it to help him see. Light and darkness are all the same to God in the sense that he can see perfectly clear in both conditions.

That might be what Bildad means. Or maybe it isn’t. And I don’t think it’s worth spending a lot of time considering what he really means, actually.

And I say that because yet again, even this verse is Bildad restating an argument made by Eliphaz back in chapter 15. Only there, Eliphaz said that the entire heavens aren’t pure in God’s sight. Bildad is now just claiming that the starts are impure.

So, Bildad is trying to prove that it will be impossible for Job to vindicate himself before God. And as he argues that, he points to the fact that God isn’t all that impressed with the heavens and the heavenly bodies that he himself created.

And that’s kind of surprising for us – because to us those created entities out there are amazing. Furthermore, we might tend to assume that moral fault is associated only with humans. But Bildad is arguing that God finds fault even with these celestial creations of his.

Now, whether Bildad is right about all that or not – he’s definitely wrong as he uses these considerations to try to “comfort” Job – which has mainly consisted of him accusing Job of secret sin and not really listening to what he has to say.

Job 25 Commentary: Lesser

OK, but remember that Bildad is in the middle of a greater-to-lesser argument. He’s just claimed that God finds fault even in these seemingly-impeccable heavenly creations of his. That’s the greater.

And so, if the greater is the case, then the lesser is definitely the case. And in Bildad’s mind, the lesser argument is that Job – just like any human – will never be vindicated before God.

6 How much less man, [that is a/that/who is but a] [worm/maggot]?
[and the/a] son of man, [which is a/that/who is only a] worm?

Now, we need to keep in mind that the worm that Bildad is speaking of here is likely the same kind of worm that’s been the subject of several verses in this book already.

And that worm is not the earthworm – the kind that birds pull out of the ground or that get washed out of their holes when it rains too much.

No, this worm really is the maggot. The creature that is the larva of flies – that are attracted to rotting matter – typically dead things.

This is the creature that Job claimed was clothing his skin – along with clods of dirt. Job has been so ready to die and be consumed by these awful creatures that he poetically has started to call them his sister and mother – identifying them as family. These creatures cover the dead bodies of both men who have wonderful perfect lives and those whose lives are miserable.

And that’s how Bildad pictures mankind – especially in comparison to the heavenly bodies. They’re loathsome disgusting bugs that feed on dead matter.

And we need to remember that in chapter 24 Job characterized his friends’ arguments and assertions. And one of the things that he says that they claim is that the evil person always meets with swift death – and as a result, he says, the worm will feed sweetly on that person. That’s what Job says that his friends keep claiming. And interestingly enough, that’s what Bildad – as the last friend to speak – mentions here. He’s not at all denying what Job sort of mocked them for saying. No – he’s saying it with more force and vigor than before.

And that’s the last bit of worthless “comfort” that any of these friends give to the suffering Job. Because we don’t hear from any of them ever again in the pages of Scripture.

But Job – on the other hand – has a lot more to say. And we’ll continue to hear it in the coming weeks and months.

Job 24 Commentary

Job 24 Commentary: Each of us has a natural sense of justice. We want good to win and bad to lose.

And this is the case by-and-large whether we’re Christians or not. The definition of what is good and what is bad certainly differs between Christians and the lost. Nevertheless, humankind typically cheers for what they consider good and jeers for what they consider bad.

In fact, this is a large part of storytelling. If you’ve ever thought about classic stories – or stories that you love – you’ll probably recognize that there’s a protagonist – a.k.a. the good guy. And usually there’s also an antagonist – the bad guy – or sometimes the bad guy is not a guy at all. Sometimes it’s nature or something else.

But everyone for the most part seems to have this internal desire to see whatever they conceive of as justice carried out in this life.

And this seems to be the impasse that the biblical character Job and his three friends are experiencing as they consider what’s happening in Job’s life.

So, let’s turn to Job, chapter 24 to see this.

And in Job 24 we’re going to see the result of the long argument that Job and his three friends have been engaging in.

These two groups are looking at justice from different perspectives.

Job and his friends are all equally interested in justice being carried out in this life.

The friends have bought into the idea that God always punishes evil immediately and always rewards good immediately in this life. And so, if a person is being punished – he’s evil.

See the logic? If God punishes evil, then if you’re being punished then you’re… Good? No – evil. That’s what the friends believe.

And Job would have believed that himself. Until out of nowhere he starts receiving what seems to be punishment from God! We saw that in chapters 1 and 2 of this book. All his stuff was taken – loved ones, wealth, and health. All gone.

And Job has had time to think. And Job has had to defend himself against these friends’ accusation against him that he is wicked.

But Job hasn’t changed. He’s still righteous. But what has changed? The way that God is dealing with him. And so, instead of blessing Job for his righteousness – God is now punishing Job for his righteousness. And this makes no sense to anyone – Job or his friends.

But the way that his friends make sense of it in their mind is that Job is secretly wicked. And within this extended argument that they’ve been waging with one another – often times the friends will resort to describing how the typical wicked man fares in this life.

And then the friends extend that to Job and say – look Job, we see how what’s happening to you fits with what we think happens to wicked people!

The wicked man – according to the friends – is cursed in every way. He’s miserable. His kids meet with an untimely end. Their possessions and everything they have is cursed in this life.

But Job is looking at those claims. And in this chapter he says – in effect – but, that’s just not the way that things work in this life.

And so, in Job 24 we’re going to see an entire chapter devoted by Job to pointing to times when he’s seen wicked men going unpunished.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Men Go Unpunished

So, Job is going to start this chapter by asserting that very thing – that in numerous ways and in numerous circumstances, wicked men go unpunished in this life!

KJV Job 24:1 Why, [seeing times are not/are times not] [hidden/stored up/appointed] [from/by] the Almighty, [why does the Almighty not punish?…]
[and why…] do they that know him not see his [own…] days?

So, Job is asserting that times are not hidden from God. Nothing is, really. And since that’s the case and God knows everything – why do people who don’t know God see his days? I think that’s speaking of ungodly people living long in this life that God gives them.

So, why do wicked men live long lives in this life that God has given them – when God knows all about their wickedness and nothing is hidden from him? You’d think – and Job is thinking – that if God knows all, then men who don’t know him should not live very long. But they do sometimes!

Job 24 Commentary: Some Who Don’t Get Their Day

And so, Job is going to highlight these people who don’t know God and yet live long lives. And he makes a composite picture of them – not saying that every single wicked man does everything that he mentions. But giving a glimpse across the spectrum of wicked people and giving some characteristics and practices that they tend toward.

Job 24 Commentary: Thieves

And so, Job starts by highlighting that these men steal.

2 [Some/Men] [remove/move] [the landmarks/boundary stones];
they [violently take away/seize] flocks, and [feed thereof/devour them/pasture them].

Now, landmarks or boundary stones in the Old Testament marked where one man’s property ended and another’s began.

We have something similar in our time. For my house we have a pipe driven into the ground that sticks out of the grass a few inches and that’s what people before me have used to remind themselves of where their property ends.

And Job is saying that there are people who take that kind of marker and they move it. And the idea is that they move it in such a way as would disadvantage their neighbor and results in more land for themselves.

And then Job pointed to the wicked men who take people’s flocks and treat that flock like their own.

In both cases, Job is saying that there are people in this life who take what belongs to someone else and make it their own through deception and robbery.

And here’s the key. The friends have said that these people will always be cursed and punished. And yet, Job is saying – No! These people keep the land they steal. They keep the flocks they steal. Sometimes these men go unpunished and they prosper in their wickedness!

Job 24 Commentary: Cruel

Now, you can sort of understand the motivation for stealing. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s not right. But if a person needs food or land or whatever – you can sort of identify with desperation taking over and in the moment just doing something foolish to survive.

But this next characteristic that Job highlights is not like that at all. Did you know that there are some who just take a perverse joy in causing mischief? They’re just plain cruel. Let Job tell you about it.

3 They drive away the [ass/donkey] of the [fatherless/orphan],
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.

So, note the abuse that these men perpetrate against the least-powerful members of society and their material substance.

A child who had no father or mother might still have a donkey – which could assist him in doing work in order to make some money and support himself.

But Job is alerting us to the fact that there are men in this world who would drive that donkey away – either to that wicked man’s home – or what I think is more likely just out into the dessert for some sort of sick “fun” – deriving joy by depriving the needy of the little that they do have.

Same thing with the widow. Job is identifying that there are widows who have an ox that might help them to plow the field and make some sort of meager living. But then that widow falls on extremely hard times and needs to borrow money.

And this hypothetical wicked man is willing to lend to her. But it’ll cost her that ox – the only thing that she has to plow her field and make any sort of living.

So, the widow is left in a bind. She can give the ox and take the money or keep the ox and not have the money. Either way, she’s left in no better shape than when she began.

And so, Job is recognizing the fact that there are wicked men in this world who will take advantage of and mistreat the neediest people in society – not because of personal need – but just out of cruel pleasure.

Job 24 Commentary: Fearful

And so, Job continues highlighting how wicked men abuse those who are less powerful than they are. And in verse 4 Job says that these men are fearful – fear-inducing.

4 They [turn/push] the needy [out of/aside from/from] the [way/road/pathway]:
the poor of the [earth/land] [hide/are made to hide] themselves [together/altogether].

So, these wicked men intimidate and threaten the needy. And in response, the needy are pictured as cowering in some hidden place together – away from their wicked oppressor whom God never seems to judge.

Job 24 Commentary: The Oppressed

So, then Job moves on from there and seems to highlight the plight of those poor and needy ones who are abused by wicked men.

5 Behold, [as/like] wild [asses/donkeys] in the [desert/widerness], go they forth to their work;
[rising betimes/seeking diligently] for [a prey/food]:

the [wilderness/desert/wasteland] yieldeth food for them
and for their children.

So, the poor and needy are driven to hide themselves in the desert from these wicked men whom God never seems to punish. And there in the wastelands they scrape together something that would resemble food for them and their poor helpless children.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Prosper

And yet the wicked are well-fed. Verse 6.

6 They [reap/harvest] [every one his corn/their fodder] in the field:
and they gather [the/in the] [vintage/vineyard] of the wicked.

So, meanwhile – as the needy are forced to forage in the desert for their own food back in verse 5 – at the same time, after they’ve done that then they need to come to work for the wicked and reap their fields.

And they end up taking in a great harvest – even though they don’t get to eat any of it. And, it’s the vintage of the wicked. It should be cursed according to the Retribution Theology of Job’s friends. And yet, Job is pointing out that sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes the vintage of the wicked amazingly seems to be blessed – by the very God whom they spurn.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Don’t Clothe Needy

And yet again, Job juxtaposes the apparent blessings of the wicked with the apparent curses and miseries of the needy. Here’s what the wicked do to the needy…

7 They [cause the naked to lodge/spend the night naked] [without/because they lack] clothing,
[that they have/and they have] no covering [in/against] the cold.

So, the wicked would have something to clothe the naked with. But they withhold it. Just like they have food for the needy but make the needy go out into the desert to gather whatever they can find.

And in fact, it’s worse than that. The assumption here is that the wicked actively steal the clothing of the needy.

And according to Retribution Theology – and really, even according to our own innate sense of justice – this isn’t right! It’s the wicked who should go poorly clothed and hungry! And yet, that’s not always the way it works. In fact, it’s often not the way things work.

Job’s friends don’t want to recognize that. But Job is making a big issue of this inconvenient truth. Because if Job can establish the fact that sometimes the wicked aren’t punished – then couldn’t it be said that sometimes the righteous aren’t blessed materially? Because that’s what Job is starting to recognize is happening to him – even though his friends aren’t willing to believe that.

Job 24 Commentary: Needy Wet With Rain

And so, Job keeps his focus on the needy who are disadvantaged because of wicked men.

8 They are [wet with/soaked by] [the showers of the mountains/mountain rains],
and [embrace the rock/hug the rock/huddle in the rocks] [for want of a/because they lack] shelter.

So, not only do the needy lack proper clothing like in verse 7. They also lack proper shelter sometimes.

And again – if the needy are innocent of wickedness or are positively righteous then the Retribution Theology way of thinking would say that these people should be blessed materially. They should have nice houses.

And sometimes God does work it out that way. But he doesn’t always.

And to tie this all into what Job is trying to say in these last 20-some chapters – just because Job is suffering doesn’t mean that he’s secretly sinning – like his three friends have constantly been maintaining.

Job 24 Commentary: Stealing Children from Parents

But Job has more to say regarding how sometimes bad things happen to relatively good people and good things happen to really bad people…

9 [They/Others] [pluck/snatch] the [fatherless/orphan/fatherless child] from the breast,
and take a pledge [of/against] the poor.

And in context that pledge might well be the infant that the wicked stole from his poor mother.

And by the way – if you’re really thinking about these various scenes that Job is portraying, you should be angry. This is not right! Powerful people ought not abuse their power at the expense of those who have little to no power.

Part of the image of God in man surely must be a desire to meet the needs of those who have less than you. And so, when Job keeps parading before our mind’s eye all of these cases in which those who are struggling are beaten down even more by those who have the means to lift them up… there should be a sense of anger in us – of holy indignation!

That’s surely how Job feels about it. But I think the friends haven’t thought that deeply about injustice in this life. They’d rather ignore the facts and continue in what they’ve always believed – even when what they believe is neither based on God’s word – nor in line with reality.

But in the mind of everyone who’s pondered or experienced this kind of thing – our minds do start to wonder as to why God seems to not take any action. Why does he let this go on?

And we have answers for this in Scripture that Job and his friends didn’t seem to have access to. Namely – even the message of this book is helpful in this regard: When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom.

God’s ways of patiently allowing evil to happen are not easy to understand. But even when we can’t understand his ways, we do well to – we must – trust his wisdom.

Job 24 Commentary: Living without Proper Food and Clothing

Well, Job continues to pile up in his mind the injustices in this world – especially as they relate to wicked men seeming to avoid being punished for their wickedness to their fellow-man.

10 They [cause him to go/cause the poor to go about/go about] naked without clothing,
and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; [or, someone goes hungry while carrying sheaves…]

So, the wicked is being pictured either as stealing a sheaf of grain from the hungry – or making the hungry work while carrying his sheaves in the harvest field. In other words, making a hungry man work while not allowing him to eat a little of what he’s working on that could be a benefit to the hungry. Like muzzling the ox while he’s threshing.

Job 24 Commentary: No Drink

And that second option might be the more likely one – making the hungry work while not letting them eat what they’re working on. Because in the next verse, Job seems to mention the needy working for the wicked while they themselves go thirsty. They worked with the wicked man’s sheaves without any food. Now they work for the wicked man making oil and wine – liquids – without getting to drink anything.

11 [Which/They] [make/produce/press out] oil [within/between] [their walls/the rows of olive trees],
and tread their winepresses, [and suffer thirst/but thirst/while they are thirsty].

So, the poor man presses the olives and grapes of his wicked masters. But the ones doing the work go without any of the benefit of the work they’re producing. They’re like slave labor – with their masters failing to recognize that these poor and needy men are men – who are made in God’s image and worthy of compassion and care.

Job 24 Commentary: Bleak Life

Well then, Job goes on in verse 12 to paint a really bleak picture of life on this earth where wicked men prosper. And then Job adds this note: “God doesn’t do anything to stop it!”

12 [Men/Dying men] groan [from out of/from] the city,
and the soul of the wounded crieth out [for help…]:

yet God [layeth not folly to them/does not pay attention to folly/charges no one with wrongdoing].

And this is the thrust of Job’s frustration that he’s pouring out in this chapter. The wicked even go so far as to kill people. And it’s as if the groans of their victims could be heard from all around the city as these men die at the hand of wicked people.

And according to the way that Job and his friends have been thinking – this shouldn’t happen. Or if it does happen, God should immediately stop it. Because – after all – God punishes evil. He rewards good. He delivers the innocent.

And the reality is that God does those things often. But not always.

Sometimes he does let wicked men prosper. Sometimes he does let the innocent and needy be abused and taken advantage of.

And that makes no sense to us. Because even as we’ve heard in our church in a recent message – God is good and God is powerful. And if that’s the case, then we would assume that God would basically make earth like heaven – no sin, no wickedness, no injustice. In fact, as we’ve heard on Wednesday nights – that’s how Jesus commands us to pray – that earth would be like heaven in terms of God’s will being done in both.

But that’s where Pastor Kindstedt’s third point comes in from a few Sunday evenings ago. God is also wise. Not just good and powerful – but also wise. He knows what he’s doing. And he knows what to allow and when. And it won’t always make sense to us. But again we’re reminded that When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust God’s Wisdom.

Job is almost ready to do that. His friends are nowhere near being able to accept that. They have forced God’s ways make sense to them. And in the process, they’re condemning an innocent man. They’re accusing Job of sinning – and sinning to such an extent that God has brought this suffering in his life as a form of punishment.

But that’s why Job is pointing out the fact that wicked men do sometimes get away with murder – literally. And innocent men suffer wrongfully. It happens! – Job is telling these men.

Job 24 Commentary: More of a View of Wickedness

Then, Job continues to speak of wicked men.

13 [They are of/Others have been with/There are] those that rebel against the light;
they know not the ways thereof, [and don’t want to …]
nor [abide/stay] in the paths thereof.

And from there, Job adds to his composite portrait of wicked people.

Job 24 Commentary: Murderers

We have murderers in verse 14.

14 The murderer rising [with the light/at dawn/before daybreak]
killeth the poor and needy,
and in the night is as a thief.

Job 24 Commentary: Adulterers

Then, adulterers are in view in verse 15.

15 The eye also of the adulterer [waiteth/watches] for the twilight,
saying, No eye [shall/will/can] see me:
and [disguiseth/covers with a mask] his face.

Job 24 Commentary: Adulterers or Thieves

Then in verses 16 and 17 Job is speaking either of adulterers from verse 15 – or he’s starting a new category of wicked people by speaking once more of thieves.

16 In the dark [they/robbers] [dig through/dig into/breaks into] houses,
which they [had marked for themselves/shut themselves in] in the daytime:
they know not the light.

17 For the morning is to them [even/the same] as [the shadow of death/thick darkness/deep darkness]:
[if one know them, they are in/he knows/they are friends with] the terrors of [the shadow of death/thick darkness].

Job 24 Commentary: The Friends are Overly-Simple

And in light of all of this – of wicked men prospering – of wicked men abusing others with no justice brought to them – Job seems to take aim at the overly-simple representation of reality that his friends have constructed in their minds.

18 [You say…] He is [swift/insignificant/foam] [as/on] the waters;
their portion is cursed [in the earth/of land]:
[he beholdeth not/they do not turn toward/so that no one goes] the way of [the/their] vineyards.

So, the friends have claimed that wicked people are insignificant. They’re like water. Further, what they have in this life is cursed. And as an example of that cursing – these evil people don’t even get to see their vineyards.

But Job was just telling them of times where the wicked have the innocent and needy work in those vineyards! And God doesn’t seem to do anything about it in order to make the situation like what the friends say it should be!

Either that, or Job is saying here that the needy are insignificant in this life and that their portion – rather than the portion of the wicked – is cursed and that the needy don’t get to be benefited from the produce of vineyards.

I lean toward the first interpretation. That Job is attacking the friends’ overly-simple way of thinking of the wicked in this life.

Job 24 Commentary: More False Claims

And here’s another thing the friends claim.

19 Drought and heat [consume/carry away] the snow waters:
so doth the grave those which have sinned.

20 [The womb/A mother] shall forget him;
the worm shall [feed sweetly/feast] on him;

he shall be no more remembered; [because of the worm’s work…]
and wickedness shall be broken as a tree.

So, the friends claim that wicked men simply die. They are forgotten by everyone and their bodies decay. God destroys them.

And while that is usually ultimately true, Job has just furnished numerous examples where that doesn’t happen right away.

Job 24 Commentary: No Consequences

No – in fact, Job says – the wicked man abuses others in this life with no consequence. And this is now Job speaking what he personally believes – not what he’s saying the friends think.

21 He [evil entreateth/wrongs/preys on] the barren that beareth not:
and doeth not good to the widow.

So, Job paints the picture of bad people preying on the barren and the widow – with no repercussion.

Job 24 Commentary: The Wicked Destroy the Mighty

And it’s not just the weak and disadvantaged that evil men overcome. They even destroy the mighty!

22 [He/God] [draweth/drags off] [also/but] the [mighty/valiant] [with/by] his power:
[he/God] riseth up, and no man is sure of life.

Now, one translation I often consult makes these statements to apply to God – as if this is Job still quoting his three friends and the wrong things they’ve asserted. But I don’t think that’s necessary. In the flow, it seems that Job is still speaking of wicked men – not of God.

Job 24 Commentary: How God Deals with the Wicked

And then I think Job grapples with the idea that God seems to do two actions at the same time that seem to not operate in harmony – 1) God grants the wicked safety and 2) He’s watching everything they do.

23 Though it be given [him/the wicked] [by God…] to be in safety, whereon [he/the wicked] resteth;
[yet/but] [his/God’s] eyes are upon [their/the wicked’s] ways.

Job 24 Commentary: The Wicked Do Eventually Die

And in the end though, it seems like Job admits that the wicked do eventually die.

24 They are exalted for a little while,
but are gone and brought low;

they are [taken out of the way/gathered up/gathered in] as all other,
and cut off as the tops of the [ears of corn/heads of grain].

So, perhaps what we see here in this verse is Job calibrating his thoughts.

For much of this chapter we’ve seen him go to one extreme and paint a picture of the wicked always winning and prospering. And in fact, as I’ve taught this chapter, I’ve consciously added words to qualify what Job is saying – because at face value, his bare words are giving the impression that the wicked never lose or suffer or even die.

And so, I think what Job is doing here in verse 24 that we just read is adjusting his message a bit. He’s recognizing that the wicked do eventually die – just like everyone else. And really, their exaltation is just for a little while in the scheme of things.

And yet, what Job has said in this chapter he still does really believe – that wicked men don’t always suffer and face curses from God in this life. That there are long stretches of time during which it will look like the wicked are doing very well and that God is doing absolutely nothing about it.

Job 24 Commentary: A Challenge Raised

And so, Job ends his speech by throwing down the gauntlet and raising a challenge to these thoughtless friends of his.

25 And if it be not so now, who will [make/prove] me a liar,
and make my speech [nothing worth/worthless]?

And, Job shouldn’t have offered that challenge. Because one last time, one of his friends is going to answer that challenge and try to prove Job wrong. We’ll see that next time.

Job 23 Commentary

Job 23 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Job 23. The 23rd chapter of the book of Job.

And we need to remind ourselves that Eliphaz’s advice in chapter 22 didn’t help Job. Part of what Eliphaz said was accusing Job of committing secret sins. And the other part was holding out false hope for Job that if he stopped sinning God would bless him.

Neither of these pieces of advice were correct. And so Eliphaz failed to do what he came to do – to comfort Job.

And that was his third chance at trying to comfort Job. And you know what they say – three strikes and … you’re out. And so, that was Eliphaz’s last speech to Job recorded in this book.

Job 23 Commentary: Lamenting Current Situation

But Job’s still trying to make sense of what’s going on in his life. Why God is seeming to punish him. Him – who is a righteous man, no less! Why is all of this happening?

And that’s why Job begins in verses 1 and 2 lamenting his utterly confusing current situation.

KJV Job 23:1 Then Job answered and said,

2 Even to day is my complaint [bitter/rebellion]:
[my stroke/his hand] is [heavier than/heavy despite] my groaning.

And so, Eliphaz promised Job blessings from God if he stopped sinning. And Job hears that and says – Yes, I should be having God’s favor if I’m not sinning against him. And yet even now is my stroke – or the stroke from God’s hand – heavy on me. He hasn’t let up – even though I’m totally innocent.

And so, that leads Job to yearn to be able to locate God and come into his presence.

3 Oh that I knew where I might find him!
that I might come even to his [seat/place of residence]!

And here’s what Job would do if he were to ever be granted audience with God.

4 I would [order/present/lay out] my [cause/case] before him,
and fill my mouth with arguments.

So, Job – as he envisions this fantasy of appearing before God to figure out why God appears to be punishing him for nothing – Job imagines that he would lay out his case with God. He would argue that what God was doing to him was wrong.

And surely Job would be telling God that he hadn’t sinned and therefore God shouldn’t be punishing him!

Because that doesn’t make sense to Job. It doesn’t make sense to him that an innocent man should be given difficulties by God. Even though Job had originally told his wife that they should receive both good and bad from God – Job has had enough of it.

It’s one thing to give verbal assent to a spiritual truth. It’s quite another to internally agree with that truth and submit to it when it’s in action in your life.

Well, so, Job plans – in his mind – that he could come to God and sort of set God straight on some things. And – of course – he’s expecting that God will answer back.

5 I would [know/learn] the words which he would answer me,
and [understand/perceive] what he would say unto me.

So, Job wishfully imagines a time when he comes before God and argues that God should stop doing bad things to him.

Job 23 Commentary: Hope in God’s mercy

And we saw that Job is anticipating an answer from God. But the way he spoke about that betrays an uncertainty in his heart as to how the Almighty will respond.

And so, God’s response to Job’s theoretical arguments is what’s in Job’s mind in verse 6. How will God respond to Job if he were to stand before him? He wonders…

6 [Will/Would] he [plead against/contend with] me with his great power?
No; [but/surely/only] he would [put strength/pay attention] [in/to] me.

So, Job is hoping for mercy from God – should he ever get this chance to stand before his Maker and plead his case.

And yet, it seems like Job hardly views God’s gracious hearing of his complaints as mercy. In fact, in verse 7, Job makes it sound like God is practically obligated to agree with him and take Job’s perspective of the matter.

7 There [the righteous/the upright/an upright person] [might/would/could] [dispute with/reason with/present his case before] him;
[so/and] [should/would] I be delivered for ever from my judge.

And so, if Job is viewing God as his judge – this statement is a little unsettling. Job feels like he needs to be delivered from God – the one who is judging and supposedly punishing him.

Job is putting God in the position of being his adversary. And he’s also in his mind viewing his ways of thinking as wiser than God’s.

This is – of course – why God is going to have to come and question Job at the end of this book about all sorts of things that Job knows nothing about.

Job is getting to the point where he really feels that if he were to be able to bring God to court and sue him for wrongdoing – Job would be vindicated. But what does that mean for God? It means that God would need to adjust his ways to accommodate Job’s supposedly superior wisdom.

And we can all identify and sympathize with Job. At yet – at the same time we recognize that Job is going a little too far here. To assume that we know more than God is simply arrogant. It borders on blasphemy.

When we assume that we’re wiser than God, we are believing lies about him. We’re bringing him down to our level. We must not do this.

When we don’t understand God’s ways, I suppose we have two choices. We can assume that God is wrong. But that’s never the case. And so, the second and correct option is to trust God’s wisdom. Even when it doesn’t make sense to us.

Job 23 Commentary: Despair

So, Job is starting to feel pretty good about his chances of being heard by God. He’s going to appear before God and tell God that he’s not wicked and that therefore he should not be suffering. God will hear Job and relent and stop punishing him as if he were wicked.

Simple enough.

Or is it?

Well, that would be simple enough – except there’s one major problem with Job’s plan.

And it’s this. Job feels like he can’t find God anywhere…

8 Behold, I go [forward/to the east], but he is not there;
and [backward/to the west], but I [cannot/do not] perceive him:

9 [On the left hand/In the north], [where he doth work/when he acts/when he is at work], but I [cannot behold/do not see] him:
he [hideth/turns] himself [on/to] the [right hand/south], that I cannot see him:

So, it’s pretty hard to drag someone into court when you can’t find that person. And that’s how Job is picturing God. He would present his arguments to God. But the problem is – God’s nowhere to be found.

Job 23 Commentary: Confidence

And yet, despite that problem of not being able to find God to discuss matters with him – Job bounces back in his own spirit and recognizes that even though he can’t find God – he knows that God can find him, and that God knows the truth about Job and his righteousness perfectly well.

10 But he knoweth the [way/pathway] that I take:
[when/if] he [hath tried/tested] me, I [shall/would] come forth as gold.

And here are some samples of what Job’s “way” that God knows about has looked like that would give him such confidence if God were to try or test him…

11 My foot hath [held/held fast to/followed closely] his [steps/path],
his way have I kept, and not [declined/turned aside].

So, one of the ways that Job is so confident that God knows his way – back in verse 10 – is because Job’s way has stuck so close to God’s way – in verse 11.

So, Job highlighted in verse 11 how he’s followed God. And the focus was on the feet – so to speak. He talks about his foot holding to God’s steps and not turning with his feet away from God’s way or path.

But now in verse 12, Job is going to focus – not on feet – but on the mouth – and in particular on God’s mouth – as he has obeyed God in his life to this point.

12 Neither have I [gone back/departed] from the commandment of his lips;
I have [esteemed/treasured] the words of his mouth more than my [necessary food/allotted portion].

So, Job is testifying that he has not disobeyed God’s commands. And really – it’s deeper than that. Obedience in Job’s life was merely the fruit of a right estimation of God’s word. He perceived God’s word to be more important than even things that he had a right to – like food.

And by the way, this indicates that at least Job had some access to some amount of divine revelation. But how much of it and which parts of it were available to him are anyone’s guess, I’m afraid.

Well, we just saw Job change his attitude from one of despair into one of some degree of confidence – that if God were to test him, he would come out looking pure.

And that fact should give Job a great amount of joy. But it won’t.

Job 23 Commentary: I can’t change God’s mind

Because, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how right Job is and how confident he is in his righteousness. In the end, Job is now going to express his lament that God refuses to change his mind concerning Job in verses 13 and 14.

13 But he is [in one mind/unique/unchangeable], and who can [turn/change] him?
and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.

14 For he [performeth/fulfills] [the thing that is appointed/his decree] [for/against] me:
and many such [things/decrees] are [with him/his plans].

So, I think that some of us have been exposed to teaching that has caused us to think that verse 14 is a great source of assurance and rest for our souls. As in, God will sovereignly do what he has decreed that he will do in my life and I can rest in his care.

And that concept is true and biblical – God is sovereign. He has plans for you. He will make sure they happen.

However – that’s not what Job is expressing. Job is expressing a bleak dread of what God has in store for him next. In Job’s mind, nothing can change God’s course of action in his life. And that course of action has involved a lot of unexplainable suffering in Job’s life.

And Job is taking note of God’s sovereignty – yes. But he’s not resting peacefully in that sovereignty. He’s grudgingly going along with it – because he has no other choice.

Because in Job’s mind, God’s mind cannot be changed and his course of action is inevitable and miserable in Job’s life.

Job 23 Commentary: I’m afraid of God now

And because of this, Job ends this chapter by declaring that he’s now afraid of God.

15 [Therefore/That is why] [am/would be] I [troubled/dismayed/terrified] [at/in] his presence:
when I consider, I am [afraid/terrified] [of/because of] him.

And I can guarantee you that this isn’t how Job felt back in chapter 1 of this book. He would have rejoiced at God’s presence.

But now, he’s terrified of God. And – by the way – I think it’s interesting that Job was talking so big about meeting God in court and arguing his case before him and everything – and now look at what he says. He doesn’t really want to be in God’s presence. He’s afraid of God.

And yet, he has declared that his redeemer lives and that he’ll see him some day. Job has given numerous others indication of confidence and trust in the Lord.

And so, it shouldn’t surprise us when those who are suffering waiver back and forth in their feelings about God and his dealings in their lives. We’re seeing with Job a kind of back-and-forth dynamic in terms of his perception of God. We should expect no less from brethren now who undergo suffering of any form.

Well, Job says that he’s scared of God. Why? Verse 16.

16 [For/It is/Indeed] God maketh my heart [soft/faint],
and the Almighty [troubleth/who has dismayed/has terrified] me:

So, God makes Job’s heart soft or faint and troubles him.

But what does that feel like to Job? In a word, darkness

17 [Because/But/Yet] I [was not cut off/am not silenced/have not been silent] [before/by/because of] the darkness,
[neither/(blank)] hath [he/(the darkness)] covered [the darkness/deep gloom/thick darkness] [from/(blank)] my face.

Now, this verse is difficult to translate. And so, scholars have a difficult time knowing exactly how to interpret it.

But if we take it as the KJV translates it, then what Job seems to be saying is this. If God would have cut Job off before the darkness – Job wouldn’t be afraid. Why? Because he would be dead.

And on the other hand, God has not covered his face from the darkness. So, God allows Job to experience dark times in his life. And yet, God has not yet allowed those dark times to kill Job. And for that reason, Job fears God.

Job 23 Commentary: Conclusion

So, we’ve seen in this chapter Job responding to Eliphaz – lamenting his current situation, expressing some level of hope that God will be merciful to him, then sinking into despair, but rising to confidence that he will be vindicated, then to lament that he can’t change God’s mind, and finally to express that he fears God – and not the kind of healthy, reverent fear he had back in chapter 1.

In the next chapter we’ll see Job once again declare that wicked men go unpunished – a concept that his three friends disagreed with.

Skin for Skin in Job

“Skin for Skin” Job: I just recently added a live chat plugin, hoping that I could have a more direct impact on folks that come to this site looking for a better understanding of the Bible.

God be praised, I just had one such experience!

The visitor (I assume it was a man, so I’ll refer to him with a masculine pronoun from here on out) found my Job 2 Commentary and was wanting more information about what Satan says to God in Job 2:4. There Satan responds to God with an obscure idiom “skin for skin.

This man didn’t understand that phrase and asked for some clarification. He also wanted to know my opinion on the theme of Job 2:4-6. See below for the discussion…

(By the way, I’m Paul” and the visitor is V1521867741132964 below, in case that isn’t clear…)

Conversation started on Saturday, March 24 2018, 00:02
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[00:02] Visitor navigated to https://www.explainingthebook.com/job-2-commentary/
[00:02] Customer Support (System Message) : Welcome to our site, if you need help simply reply to this message, we are online and ready to help.
[00:14] V1521867741132964 : i need to understand more in verse 1 to verse 6 of job chapter2 plse
[00:15] Paul : Hi! Thanks for visiting and interacting. Let me get this material in front of me…
[00:16] Paul : OK, so you’re wanting to understand better what’s happening in Job 2:1-6?
[00:17] Paul : Is there anything in particular that’s confusing to you?
[00:18] V1521867741132964 : verse 4 skin for skin whats that refer to
[00:19] Paul : Good question
[00:19] Paul : It’s apparently a Hebrew idiom.
[00:21] Paul : One possibility is that Satan is saying that a person will sacrifice the skin of another to save his own. In other words, Job’s family all died but he’s free to keep on living. God has touched their skin but not his in that way.
[00:22] Paul : And that’s why he follows up and demands that God touch Job’s own skin.
[00:23] Paul : But even the NET acknowledges that this phrase is obscure.
[00:23] Paul : Do you mind me asking what you need to know this for? Are you teaching/preaching on it or is it for personal study?
[00:29] V1521867741132964 : honestly I have time my pastor allow me to preach but I know I’m a weak Christian in Gods word ..I read the bible and the help from the holy spirit makes me moving forward ,,,I’m happy when I open up to see some commentary in Job 2 and you show up thanks God …im sorry for that
[00:30] Paul : Wow, what a great opportunity for you. And so are you planning to preach Job 2 this Sunday?
[00:31] V1521867741132964 : I’m preparing for a call from my pastor,,
[00:32] Paul : And are you two going to be discussing Job 2 in that call? Sorry if I’m missing what you’re saying! 🙂
[00:35] V1521867741132964 : yes I’m studing Job 2 and preach on that if I have a chance next time,,
[00:37] Paul : Great. So maybe your pastor will have an idea about what that idiom means, as well. I’d be interested to know what he thinks.

But basically, we can tell from the context that Satan is challenging God and saying that what he allowed Satan to do to Job previously wasn’t enough to prove that Job worships God “for nothing” or because God deserves to be worshiped for who he is rather than for the material stuff that God gives him.
[00:37] Paul : Does that help at all?
[00:38] Paul : Does your church record your sermons and publish them online? If so, I’d like to hear how it turns out!
[00:41] V1521867741132964 : no we don’t do that but what you are explaining helps me understand more
[00:41] Paul : I thank God for that. Are there any other questions you had that I might be able to address?
[00:43] V1521867741132964 : if you don’t mind what would be your theme to Job 2 verse4 to verse6
[00:45] Paul : Good question. I mean, we see there Satan not being satisfied with the torment that he unleashed on Job in chapter 1. Satan challenges God to do worse to Job. And we see God grant Satan’s additional request. But the request does need to be granted. It appears that Satan had and has no authority outside of what God allows.
[00:45] Paul : So, perhaps a theme could be God’s Sovereignty Over Our Suffering
[00:46] Paul : Or God Will Test Your Faith
[00:46] Paul : Or Satan is Under God’s Control
[00:46] Paul : Or Will You Worship God for Nothing?
[00:47] Paul : Personally, I would deal with Job 2 as a story/narrative and probably deal with a section broader than just three verses of that one chapter. But that’s just me.
[00:48] Paul : Job 1 and 2 really go together as the introduction to the book.
[00:49] Paul : Is any of that beneficial to you?
[00:52] V1521867741132964 : well that amazing from you sir I’m been blessed by your sharing and do hope more sharing like this ,,from me and my family we only say God bless you all in your life,,
[00:53] Paul : Thank you. Feel free to contact me any time at [my email address] or visit the site and see if I’m available on live chat. Have a good evening!
[00:55] V1521867741132964 : Thank you so much I will keep in touch ..God bless
[00:55] Paul : You too! Good night.