Job 22 Commentary

Let’s take a look at Job 22 for this Job 22 commentary. The 22nd chapter of the Old Testament book of Job.

Last time, we saw Job give a speech to his friends. He told them something that would have shocked them.

The friends have been telling Job that he’s being punished by God because he’s committing secret sin. And in their minds – this is the only viable explanation. If a person is suffering, it’s because God is punishing them. And if God is punishing a person, it’s because that person is sinning.

But we saw last time that Job denied their assertions. But then he pointed to all the cases in which wicked men don’t get punished. He pointed to situations in which wicked men actually prosper!

And so, at this point Job is hoping that these friends would actually pay attention to what he’s saying and stop accusing him of being secretly wicked – and to instead rather comfort him.

But the sad reality is that Job is not going to get what he wants.

Because in Job 22 today we’re going to witness Eliphaz’s last speech. And in this last speech, Eliphaz is going to once more accuse Job of being wicked. He apparently didn’t understand Job’s message from the previous chapter. Or – more likely – he understands – but doesn’t agree.

So, let’s witness this chapter that basically boils down to an extended false accusation against Job on the part of Eliphaz.

Job 22 Commentary: Man is worthless to God

And so, we begin with verses 1-3 where Eliphaz claims that man is worthless to God.

KJV Job 22:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite [answered and said/responded/answered],

2 Can a [man/vigorous man/strong man] be [profitable/of use/of benefit] unto God,
[as/or] he that is wise may be [profitable/useful] unto [himself/him]?

3 Is it any [pleasure/special benefit] to the Almighty, that thou art righteous?
or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways [perfect/blameless]?

So, Eliphaz is telling Job that it’s really no big deal if he’s righteous. The fact that Job is a good man doesn’t really make a difference to God.

God’s not in need of strong men. He’s not in need of righteous men even.

In other words, if no one in this world was physically strong or morally good – God would still be God.

On the other hand, if a person is strong or righteous – it’s not like God is impressed and owes the guy something.

That’s Eliphaz’s point.

And so, as he’s hearing Job declare his own moral integrity, Eliphaz says basically, “Who cares? No big deal, Job! That doesn’t impress God.

Job 22 Commentary: When it comes down to it, God is punishing you for sin

But when it comes down to it – even though Eliphaz appears to give Job the benefit of the doubt and assumes for the benefit of the doubt that he’s righteous – just for a little while, at least – the reality is that Eliphaz does not at all for a second really believe that Job is being honest.

How could Job be suffering so horrendously if he’s truly as righteous as he claims!? That’s the incredulity that Eliphaz expresses in verse 4.

4 [Will/Does] he [reprove/rebuke] thee for [fear of thee/your reverence/your piety]?
[i.e., and…] [will he enter/enters] with thee into judgment?

So, Eliphaz is asking Job if it really makes any sense that God is judging him for his fear of God. You can imagine Eliphaz cocking his head to one side and looking out the corner of his eye at Job as he asks this question.

So, despite what Eliphaz said in verses 2 and 3 – what Eliphaz really thinks of Job comes out in verse 4 in the form of a question – Job is it really because of your righteousness that God is punishing you – as if you were a wicked person???

Because Eliphaz assumes that righteousness doesn’t meet with punishment – but rather with reward. So, when he sees a man like Job seeming to be receiving punishment – well, the implication is clear. Job must be wicked.

Job 22 Commentary: Cut to the chase!

And so, Eliphaz stated his suspicion in verse 4 in the form of a kind of sarcastic question.

But now in verse 5 he comes right out and asks a rhetorical question that demands the answer of “yes” that demonstrates without a doubt that Eliphaz thinks that Job is unrighteous!

5 Is not thy wickedness great?
and thine iniquities [infinite/without end]?

The answer that Eliphaz expects? YES! Yes, Job’s wickedness is great. Yes, his iniquities are infinite! Despite what Job maintains – Eliphaz wants Job to stop the nonsense and admit that he’s a sinner and that that’s why God is punishing him.

Job 22 Commentary: How Job is secretly wicked

And so, to help his accusation to have some weight to it, Eliphaz now in verses 6-9 is going to level several indictments against Job – just kind of guessing – in a very confident manner – what Job might have done to deserve the treatment he’s receiving from God.

Who knows – maybe Eliphaz is thinking – maybe one of these accusations will stick!

6 For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother [for nought/without cause/for no reason],
and stripped the naked of their clothing.

7 Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink,
and thou hast withholden [bread/food] from the hungry.

8 [But as for/Although you were] the mighty man, [he/and] [had/owned] [the earth/land];
and [i.e., you were…] the honourable man [i.e., who…] dwelt in it.

9 Thou hast sent widows away empty[-handed],
and the [arms/strength] of the [fatherless/orphans] have been [broken/crushed] [by you…].

So, the gist of Eliphaz’s accusations is that Job has mistreated people who are disadvantaged – people who are lower in social standing than him – the poorly clothed, the weary, the hungry, widows, and orphans.

By the way – isn’t Eliphaz guilty of the very thing that he’s accusing Job of? Here Job is – in great need in every way. And what is Eliphaz doing to help him? Nothing! He’s accusing him and heaping more misery on his already-miserable condition.

So, according to Eliphaz, Job was secretly unrightous to those who are most needy in society.

Job 22 Commentary: The result of Job’s secret sin

And so – even though Job’s wickedness was in secret – Eliphaz asserts in verses 10 and 11 that God’s punishment for these secret sins is now being played out very publicly.

10 [Therefore/That is why] snares [are round about/surround] thee,
and [why…] sudden [fear/dread] [troubleth/terrifies] thee;

11 Or [why…] darkness [surrounds you…], [that/so that] thou canst not see;
and [abundance/why a flood] of waters cover thee.

And verses 10 and 11 are definitely happening to Job. There’s no denying that.

But the problem with Eliphaz’s thinking is that he sees the results. And he can accurately identify the results in Job’s life. But he’s getting the cause wrong. Eliphaz assumes the cause by seeing the effects. You can’t do that!

When a person falls upon hard times – with sickness or financial struggles or relationship issues – we can’t assume that it’s a result of some direct punishment from God for specific sin in that man’s life. Now – at the same time – those things could be direct punishment from God for sin in this man’s life – couldn’t it? But we don’t know. And we shouldn’t assume.

Job 22 Commentary: God is aware of your secret sin

But Eliphaz does assume.

And so, based on what he sees happening in Job’s life, he’s now going to declare to Job in verses 12-14 that God is well aware of Job’s secret sin.

12 Is not God in the height of heaven?
and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

13 [And/But] thou sayest,

[How/What] doth God know?
can he judge through [the dark cloud/such deep darkness]?

14 Thick clouds are a [covering to/veil for] him, that he seeth not [us…];
and he [walketh/goes back and forth] in the [circuit/vault] of heaven.

In other words, Eliphaz says that Job’s attitude toward God is that God can’t see his wickedness because God is so far removed from proximity of the evil that he’s supposedly committing on this earth.

This is a huge and incorrect – and plainly slanderous – assertion from Eliphaz. How can he possibly presume to know Job’s uncommunicated thoughts about God?

But what we’ve seen from these friends throughout this book is that assumptions prevail with them. They love to assume the worst of others. And that kind of behavior is going to get them a stern reprimand from the God who – in the New Testament – commands his people to bear, believe, hope, and endure all things from others.

Job 22 Commentary: Job is following the sin of men before him

But Eliphaz isn’t about ready to believe the best about Job.

And so, in verses 15-18, Eliphaz is going to accuse Job of following the sin of men who had gone before him.

15 [Hast/Will] thou [marked/keep to] the [old/ancient] [way/path]
which wicked men have trodden?

And here’s what happened to those wicked men of old…

16 Which were [cut down/snatched away/carried off] [out of/before their] time,
whose foundation was overflown with [a/the] flood:

And why did this happen to them?…

17 Which said unto God,

[Depart/Turn away] from us:
and what can the Almighty do for [them/us]?

And they spoke this way of God even though he was good to them…

18 Yet he filled their houses with good things:
but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.

So, let’s try to follow what Eliphaz is saying. Job is following the sin of wicked men from ancient times. That’s not reality – but it’s Eliphaz’s perception of things. And – as they say – perception is reality.

And Eliphaz is arguing against what Job said in the last chapter where he identified places where the wicked are actually blessed rather than punished.

And it’s like Eliphaz just wants to totally ignore and forget about that. Because it doesn’t mesh with his theology.

No – instead Eliphaz wants to remember the places in history where his man-made theology proved itself right. And so, he seems to harken back to Noah’s flood.

Noah’s flood is a place where Retribution Theology works for the most part. The people of the earth were wicked. And as a result, God destroyed them. That’s Retribution Theology. You do bad. You get bad.

And so Eliphaz wants to ignore the other areas where his theology doesn’t work – and instead focus on this instance where it does work.

And Eliphaz also appears to be interacting – somewhat indirectly – with Job’s message from last time when he speaks the words of verse 18.

Verse 18 sounds very similar to what Job said in chapter 21. And I think what’s going on is that Eliphaz is saying – “Yes, Job – sometimes God does give good things to wicked and ungrateful men. But you need to understand that in the end – in this life, God always punishes these wicked men. You need an example, Job? Look no farther than what happened to the wicked men during the flood.

Job 22 Commentary: The righteous rejoice when the wicked are surely punished

And it seems that Job’s assertion that wicked men sometimes are blessed in this life – that thought is particularly troubling to Eliphaz. And so, Eliphaz wants to emphasize with Job in verses 19 and 20 that when the wicked are punished – and they are surely punished!!! – well, when that happens, the righteous rejoice.

19 The righteous see [it/their destruction], and [are glad/rejoice]:
and the innocent [laugh/mock] them [to scorn/scornfully] [saying…].

20 [Whereas/Truly/Surely] our [substance/adversaries/enemies] [is not cut down/are cut off/are destroyed],
but [the remnant of them/their abundance/their wealth] the fire consumeth.

So, the righteous see that they’re doing fine – but that the wicked and his stuff are consumed with fire – and he rejoices.

By the way, I wonder what Job was thinking as Eliphaz says this. We remember that some of Job’s stuff was indeed consumed by “the fire of God.” If Eliphaz is saying that Job is wicked, and Eliphaz is maintaining that he himself is righteous – is Eliphaz saying that he’s rejoicing in the fact that Job is suffering?


Job 22 Commentary: A plea to repent

Or maybe not – because what we’re going to see next is uncharacteristic of a man who is rejoicing in the suffering of his friend – even if the friend is secretly wicked.

Yes, what Eliphaz is going to do in verses 21 and 22 would be the loving thing to do under different circumstances. Because he’s going to plead with Job to repent.

21 [Acquaint now/Yield now/Reconcile] thyself with [him/God], and be at peace:
thereby good shall come unto thee.

22 [Receive/Accept], I pray thee, [the law/instruction] from his mouth,
and [lay up/establish/store up] his words in thine heart.

So, Eliphaz urges Job to be reconciled to and at peace with God. This will be for Job’s good – Eliphaz admonishes.

Of course, Eliphaz has no idea that God is fine with Job. No need for reconciliation.

But the really interesting statement came in verse 22 that we just read. Eliphaz advises Job to receive God’s law – his instruction – his torah in Hebrew.

And then Eliphaz follows that up with an admonition to lay up God’s words.

And I point this out to say that this is uncharacteristic of Eliphaz or any of these three friends – to direct Job to God’s word.

In fact, this is the only place in the book of Job where that Hebrew word torah is used.

I unfortunately can’t explain why Eliphaz just now starts directing Job to God’s instruction and his words. I don’t know why he never mentions them again.

Because this really is where a godly counselor begins – with God’s words.

So much of what these men have given Job is tradition from ancient wisdom men – or their own personal experience. And this has not helped him at all.

But now – finally someone is pointing Job to God’s words.

The problem is that this advice has come too late. And it won’t be repeated again. And Eliphaz does nothing to direct Job to specific statements that God has made that would help Job in his life situation.

In fact, given how Eliphaz has handled himself thus far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Eliphaz is simply asserting to Job that whatever Eliphaz is saying to Job is indeed the very word of God – his law – his torah!

And if that’s the case, then this is yet another instance in which one of these three friends reaches closer and closer to the height of arrogance. But they’re not getting any closer to helping Job.

Job 22 Commentary: Promise of blessings for repentance

And yet, that’s not what Eliphaz thinks. Eliphaz feels that what he’s sharing with Job is going to revolutionize his life. In fact, Eliphaz is going to take the rest of his speech to highlight to Job the abundant blessings that Job will meet with if and when he does repent of his sin and start hearing Eliphaz’s wise counsel – which is pretty much the “words of God!”

And what could be more helpful to Job than to get all of his stuff back – all of his blessings from the Lord back?!

Job 22 Commentary: Forsake wicked riches, get good riches from God

So, Eliphaz starts with a conditional sentence in verses 23-25 that amount to Eliphaz promising true riches to Job when he forsakes his wicked riches and returns to God.

23 If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be [built up/restored],
[thou shalt/if you] [put away/remove] [iniquity/unrighteousness/wicked behavior] far from thy tabernacles.

24 [Then shalt thou lay up/and place your/and throw your] gold [as/in the] dust,
and the gold of Ophir [as/among] the stones of the brooks.

25 [Yea/Then], the Almighty shall be thy [defence/gold],
and thou shalt have [him as…] [plenty of/choice] silver.

And so, Eliphaz is urging Job to depart from the sin that he accused him of back in the beginning of this chapter – that of making money off of the losses of others – by exploiting them and mistreating them – swindling them.

Eliphaz says that if Job throws away the gold made in that kind of a transaction and if he abandons the kind of practices that resulted in him getting that kind of – as the KJV would say – “filthy lucre,” then God will basically replace Job’s gold with gold that’s lawfully gained.

Job 22 Commentary: God will answer your prayers

Furthermore, if Job forsakes the secret sin that Eliphaz assumes that he’s involved in – Job will start having God answer his prayers once more, according to verses 26-30.

26 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty,
and shalt lift up thy face unto God.

27 Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him,
and he shall hear thee,
and thou shalt [pay/fulfill to him] thy vows.

28 [Whatever…] Thou shalt also [decree/decide on] a [thing/matter], and it shall be established [unto/for] thee:
and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

29 When men are [cast down/brought low], then thou shalt say, [There is lifting up/Lift them up!];
and he shall save the [humble/downcast] person.

30 He shall deliver the [island of the/one who is not/someone who is not] innocent:
and [it is/he will be] delivered [by/through] the [pureness/cleanness] of thine hands.

So, Job isn’t having his prayers answered anymore. Well, Eliphaz has the solution. Just repent of being corrupt and wicked and God will starts answering your prayers once more!

Well, it’s no wonder that with advice like this – that’s so one-dimensional and false and unhelpful – it’s no wonder that Job doesn’t even immediately respond to Eliphaz in the next chapter. Instead, he yearningly laments that he can’t seem to find God anywhere. And these friends aren’t helping Job find him either. We’ll see that next time.

Job 21 Commentary

Let’s look together at Job, chapter 21 for this Job 21 commentary.

Last time in chapter 20 we had a strange speech from Zophar. He seemed to be preoccupied with food as he described what he believed happens to all wicked men.

And what Zophar described matches the system of theology that he and his two buddies – and even Job up to this point – have believed. And that is the idea that wicked men are punished right away in this life. In contrast, righteous men are rewarded right away in this life.

This is what we’ve labeled “Retribution Theology.”

Everyone believes it in the book of Job. That is, up to this point.

But something really interesting happens in this chapter – chapter 21.

Job starts articulating the ways in which this theology is wrong. We haven’t seen him do this yet. Job has mostly defended himself to his friends by pleading his innocence – by expressing bewilderment as to why he’s suffering – and by sometimes flatly accusing God of not doing things right. There have also been times where Job’s faith shines through the darkness of his own spiritual turmoil.

But never before have we seen Job make an attack directed squarely at the faulty assumptions of Retribution Theology.

That is, until now.

So, as we enter into this last cycle of speeches between Job and his friends – we’ll see Job developing in his understanding of reality. We’ll see him questioning his man-made theology.

Job 21 Commentary: Please listen to me

And so, Job has something substantial to say to these three friends of his right now. And so, he starts this chapter in verses 1-4 by demanding that these men listen to him.

KJV Job 21:1 But Job answered and said,

2 [Hear diligently/Listen carefully to] my [speech/words],
and let this be your consolations [i.e., that you offer me…].

So, he says “You want to console me? That’s why you came here? Well, then do just this one thing for me – listen to me!!!

3 [Suffer/Bear with] me [that/and] I may speak;
and after that I have spoken, mock on.

So, you can sense the sarcasm. He’s telling them that they can wait just a little while so that he can speak. And then after he speaks, he gives them permission to continue to mock him.

Obviously, Job doesn’t want them continuing to mock him. And so a command like this is to be taken as sarcasm. And that’s partly because these friends certainly wouldn’t think that what they were doing could be considered mocking. After all, they came to console. Not to mock.

And yet, their consolations to Job have been so pathetic that he declares that what they’re doing is nothing more than mocking.

Job 21 Commentary: I am complaining to God

And one thing that Job wants to remind these men of is that his complaint is not against them. It’s against God.

4 As for me, is my complaint [to/again a] man?
[and if it were so/and why/if so], why should [not my spirit/I not] be [troubled/impatient]?

And I don’t know about you, but when someone under my authority complains about something – really, anything – a strange thing can happen. I can assume that that person is complaining about me.

She could be complaining about anything – even something that has nothing to do with me. And yet, when there’s a complaint, I can easily think that the complaint is directed against me.

And I wonder if that’s what Job is getting at here. He’s wanting to assure his friends that his complaint is not at all against them – or, at least it wasn’t originally. The friends aren’t Job’s real problem. Job’s problem is with God himself.

So, Job is trying to assure the friends that this is nothing personal against them. He’s having problems figuring out why God is seeming to punish him even though he’s righteous.

So, in other words, he’s telling the friends to back off. Job’s complaint and impatience is directed against the Lord.

Job 21 Commentary: An astonishing reality

And so, now Job is going to lay out that complaint against the Lord.

Job – all his life, apparently – has believed the Retribution principle of how God works in this world. Wicked men are punished in this life. Righteous men are rewarded in this life. That’s just how God works – at least, from what we can see in this world

But through his suffering, Job has been brought to a place where he now understands that God doesn’t do this.

Sometimes God punishes the righteous. I mean, after all, Job knows himself to be righteous. And yet – to Job – it’s like God has gone haywire and is now actually punishing him rather than rewarding him.

And so, now Job looks at what the friends have been telling him over and over again about how the wicked man is punished in this life and how his life is so hard and how God gets him right away… And Job is looking at that and he’s now going to say, “That’s just not the way God works.

Job 21 Commentary: Preparing for that reality

But this kind of startling revelation takes some preparation to receive. And so, Job starts this section that spans from verse 5 to the very end of this chapter by warning his friends to prepare themselves for what he’s about to say in verses 5 and 6.

5 [Mark/Look at] me, and be [astonished/appalled],
and [lay/put] your hand [upon/over] your mouth.

6 [Even/For] when I [remember/think about this] I am [afraid/disturbed/terrified],
and [trembling/horror/a shudder] [taketh hold on/is felt by] my [flesh/body].

And Job will now get in to what makes him afraid and causes trembling to take hold on this flesh.

Job 21 Commentary: The wicked do well

But first, I want to say that in this chapter we’re going to see Job doing a little too much idealizing of the life of the wicked. We know that the life of the wicked is not as great as Job is going to say here.

But I think that Job is looking at a composite picture of the typical wicked man’s life. He’s looking “from the other side of the fence” where he notices that it seems like “the grass is greener on the other side.”

And Job is especially looking at the lives of wicked men and comparing their lives to his – and then he’s also comparing what he sees in the lives of wicked men to what these three friends of his are asserting. And it’s just not lining up.

And so, Job is reacting to two things as he gives this idealized portrait of the wicked man’s life – to his own calamitous existence and to the gross overstatements of his misguided friends.

Job 21 Commentary: Longevity and quality of life

OK, so Job begins to reveal this shocking reality – that the wicked actually do well in this life – by noticing the longevity and quality of their lives in verse 7. And he states this in the form of a question.

7 Wherefore do the wicked [live/keep living/go on living],
[become old/continue on/grow old], [yea/also/even], [are mighty/increase] in power?

So, the wicked live. No – they don’t just live. They continue or grow old. Wait a second – they don’t just grow old, they actually increase in their might and power.

So, not only do wicked men sometimes not just die as a punishment from God. Sometimes they do very well in this life and live for a long time!

Job 21 Commentary: Longevity and safety of progeny

And not only do wicked people live a long time. So do their offspring. And so, Job turns to the matter of the longevity and safety of the children of wicked men in verse 8.

8 Their [seed/children] [is/are] [i.e., firmly…] established in their sight with them,
and their offspring before their eyes.

So, unlike Job’s kids, the kids of wicked people often live a safe and long life. That in contrast to a few things we’ve heard from these friends – and even from Job himself – to the effect that the children of wicked men always meet with calamity. That simply is not the case – at least it doesn’t always happen.

Job 21 Commentary: No reason to fear God

And so, because of these realities – long life and safety and prosperity for both them and their children – the wicked have absolutely no reason to fear God according to verse 9.

9 Their houses are safe [from/and without] fear,
neither is the rod [i.e., of punishment…] of God upon them.

So, there’s not just “no fear of God” – but really, no reason to fear God. His chastening rod is not after them. They’re safe with nothing to disturb them.

This is in contrast to the picture that these men have constantly been painting – that the wicked are harried at every turn by God. That their houses are destroyed and cast into darkness, etc.

It just doesn’t happen like that, Job is now recognizing.

Job 21 Commentary: Unimaginable agricultural success

In fact, it’s not just that the wicked fear nothing negative happening to them. The converse is true – according to verse 10, they so often meet with unimaginable agricultural success.

10 Their bull [gendereth/mates/breeds], [and faileth not/without fail];
their cow calveth, and [casteth not her calf/does not miscarry].

So, bovines provided men with food and with power to plow their fields and do other manual work. In some ways they could even assist with some form of transportation.

To have these creatures mate successfully was key to the success of a farmer.

And I’m not a farmer and most of you aren’t either. So, let me try to bring this into our world.

Bulls mating and cows having calves would be like you making a box of noodles – and suddenly another box magically takes its place! Or when your car finally bites the dust, you’re not bothered because actually you have a few more cars in fine shape just parked in your back yard.

So, bulls and cows reproducing is so key to the success of a farmer. And Job is now recognizing that this happens to the wicked. According to his former theology – wicked men’s cows should always be barren or birthing stillborn calves. But they don’t.

And Job is now going so far as to say that sometimes their bovines are 100% successful in mating.

Job 21 Commentary: Fruitful and joyful domestic life

And, in addition – not only are the agricultural pursuits of the wicked fruitful and joyful. So is the domestic life of these wicked men, according to verse 11.

11 They send forth their little ones like a flock,
and their children dance.

The friends make it sound like the families of wicked men are full of misery.

Not so – Job says. They have abundant children – like flocks. And these little ones are happy and dancing, often.

Job 21 Commentary: Joyful existence all-around

And it’s not just the children of the wicked who are joyful – these wicked men themselves can oftentimes have an all-around joyful existence, according to verse 12!

12 They take the timbrel and harp,
and rejoice at the sound of the [organ/flute].

And no wonder they are so filled with joy. Just look at how their lives are characterized by Job!

Job 21 Commentary: Perfect life and death

And yet, death will come – even to these wicked men whose lives are so seemingly perfect. And yet, Job is going to assert in verse 13 that both the life and even the death of these men is just perfectly pleasant.

13 They [spend their days/live out their years] in [wealth/prosperity],
and [in a moment/suddenly/peacefully] go down to the grave.

So, in life, the wicked man is wealthy and prosperous. And he deserves a really horrible and prolonged death. But that’s not what he gets. His death is sudden and peaceful.

Job 21 Commentary: Defiance to God’s face

And because of all of this, the wicked man defies God to his face, according to verses 14 and 15.

14 [Therefore/So] they say unto God,

Depart from us;
for we [desire not the knowledge of/don’t want to know] thy ways.

15 [What/Who] is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
and what [profit should we have/would we gain], if we pray unto him?

And they have a point. What’s the use of praying to God when a person has everything he wants? That’s the way the natural mind thinks.

And yet, here we have Job. A man who will serve God “for nothing” – as we heard in the first two chapters of this book.

But he’s a rare case. Most people – as Satan noted in those first two chapters – serve God for the stuff he gives. As long as he gives the stuff, we follow. The moment he stops giving the stuff, we forsake him.

But not so with Job. And that shouldn’t be the case for us either.

Brethren – are you prepared to follow God even if he makes your life miserable? Are you prepared to Trust God’s Wisdom, even if you can’t Understand His Ways?

When we’re gathered together to Jesus Christ, I guarantee that you and I and our brother Job will find it completely worth-it that we followed the Lord – even if and when he took all of our stuff away. So, let’s live like that’s the case right now.

Job 21 Commentary: This, despite God’s blessings

Well, Job had just declared that the wicked don’t serve or pray to God because they have everything they want already.

And yet, the ironic part of the whole matter is that it’s God himself that has actually given the wicked everything that they have – according to verse 16.

16 [Lo/But], their [good/prosperity] is not [in their hand/of their own doing]:

the counsel of the wicked is far from me.

So, Job reviews these things and declares that – contrary to what his friends say – Job is not wicked. And further, he has absolutely no desire to share the activities, heart attitudes, or words of these men. Their counsel and advice is far from Job, he says.

Job 21 Commentary: Questioning the wicked man’s demise

Well, next, Job asks five questions in verses 17 and 18 – all of which are intended to cast doubt on the assumptions of his friends regarding what the life of the wicked man is really like.

17 How oft is the [candle/lamp] of the wicked [put out!/extinguished?]
and how oft cometh their [destruction/calamity/misfortune] upon them[!/?]
[i.e., How often does…] God [distributeth/apportions] [sorrows/destruction/pain] [i.e., to them…] in his anger[./?]

18 [They are/Are they/How often are they] [as/like] [stubble/straw] before the wind[,/?]
and [as/like] chaff that the storm carrieth away[./?]

So, Job is saying – does what you guys are saying really happen?

And Job has come to the conclusion that – no – the lamp of the wicked is not put out and their destruction often does not come and God doesn’t give them sorrow and they’re not like stubble or chaff.

Their lives are far from being short and sad. This is in direct contradiction to their Retribution Theology-understanding of the way that God works in this world.

Job 21 Commentary: Questioning God’s delayed justice

Ah – but Job’s friends might reply something like this to what Job just said… “Yes, Job, perhaps sometimes God doesn’t punish the wicked man directly. But at least God will be sure to punish his children!

And Job takes issue with that in verses 19 through 21.

19 [i.e., You may say, “…] God [layeth/stores] up his [iniquity/punishment] for his children:

So, yeah, that’s how this could work. God could possibly be saving his wrath for the children of the wicked man. But Job doesn’t like that arrangement at all…

[he rewardeth him/Let God repay him/Instead let him repay the man himself], [and/so that] he [shall/may] know it.

20 [His eyes shall/Let his own eyes] see his [destruction/decay],
and [he shall/let him] drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

So, why would God wait to punish the wicked man’s kids? What good does that do? How does that hurt the wicked man at all? That’s what Job asks in verse 21.

21 For what [pleasure hath he in/does he care for/is his interest in] his [house/household/home] after [him/his death],
when the number of his months [is cut off in the midst/is cut off/has been broken off]?

Job 21 Commentary: But I shouldn’t be questioning God

And I think we need to catch what we just witnessed in those last few verses. Job is confronting – not just his friends and their faulty assumptions – but he’s really questioning why God is doing things the way he does them – or at least, the way that these men are thinking God works.

And that realization – that Job is directly questioning the way God runs this world – causes Job to step back a bit and acknowledge that he’s on shaky ground. Because – as he says in verse 22…

22 [Shall any/Can anyone] teach God knowledge?
[seeing/since] he judgeth those that are high.

Job 21 Commentary: The seeming randomness of death

And yet, Job isn’t going to stop questioning the way that God works in this world any time soon.

And so, Job continues into verses 23-26 by declaring the seeming randomness of death.

23 One [i.e., man…] dieth in his full [strength/vigor],
[being wholly/completely] [at ease/secure] and [quiet/satisfied/prosperous].

24 His [breasts/sides/body] are [full/filled out] [of milk/with fat] [i.e., well nourished…],
and his bones are moistened with marrow.

So, that’s the fortunate guy – the one whose death is sudden and whose life has been just great.

Then there’s the other kind of guy – the one that Job more closely resembles these days…

25 [And/While] another dieth in the bitterness of his soul,
and never [eateth with pleasure/having tasted anything good].

And they both share the same fate…

26 They shall lie down [alike/together] in the dust,
and the worms shall cover them.

And that’s not right! That’s not the way that God should work – according to Retribution Theology. The first guy – whose life and death are pleasant – should always be the righteous guy. And the one who dies in bitterness after a bitter life should always be the wicked guy. But that’s just not how God works in this world.

By the way, this sounds a lot like a few arguments made in the book of Ecclesiastes – don’t you think?

Job 21 Commentary: Job’s friends are thinking wrong

And with this mention of death – which Job very well might consider to be imminent for himself – Job seems to recoil at the thought that his friends probably think that if he dies in the state that he’s currently in – that that proves that he’s wicked.

27 [Behold/Yes], I know [your thoughts/what you are thinking],
and the [devices/plans/schemes] which ye wrongfully imagine against me [i.e., by which you would wrong me…].

Job 21 Commentary: Questioning the friends’ assumptions

And while Job is attacking his friends for assuming that his death would prove their point, he now is going to attack their assumptions about the fate of the wicked elite of society starting in verse 28.

28 For ye say,

Where is the house of the [prince/nobleman]?
and where are the dwelling places of the wicked?

So, Job is saying that these friends of his are assuming the quick demise of wicked men – especially wicked men in power – princes or noblemen.

Job 21 Commentary: They’re obviously wrong

But Job wants to state that these friends are obviously wrong in their assuming that the powerful wicked of the world meet their demise quickly in this life. And everyone knows it – verse 29.

29 Have ye not asked [them that go by the way/wayfaring men/those who travel the roads]?
and do ye not [know/recognize] their [tokens/witness/accounts],

And Job’s intention is that if these friends had asked anyone that sees what’s happening in the world, they would know that what they’re thinking regarding the wicked is totally absurd and indefensible.

Job 21 Commentary: The wicked avoids punishment in this life

And what these travelers who know what’s happening in this world would tell these friends is that the wicked avoids punishment in this life – according to verses 30 and 31.

30 That the wicked is [reserved to/spared from] the day of [destruction/calamity/destruction]?
they [shall be brought forth to/he is delivered from] the day of wrath.

31 Who [shall declare/will confront/will denounce] his [way/actions/conduct] to his face?
and who shall repay him what he hath done?

And the answer to he questions in verse 31 in Job’s mind is “Nobody!” No one is going to denounce the wicked in this life. No one will repay him for what he’s done in this life.

And I think that at this point, Job is getting so exasperated with his suffering and his friends’ wrong answers – that Job might even be starting to question whether the wicked ever gets what’s coming to him – even after this life!

Of course, we know from the Scripture that there is a punishment for the wicked – at the very least, after this life. And so, if Job is questioning that, he’s wrong.

Job 21 Commentary: The death of the wicked is sweet

And yet, what Job asserts next is right – at least some of the times. And that is, that the death of the wicked is sweet – according to verses 32 and 33.

32 Yet shall he [be brought/is carried] to the grave,
and [shall remain/watch is kept] [in the/over his] tomb.

33 The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him,
and [every man/all men/everybody] shall [draw/follow] after him [i.e., in procession…],
as there are [innumerable/a countless throng] before him.

So, the wicked is oftentimes honored in his death. He’s not vilified as he ought to be. No – he’s honored.

Job 21 Commentary: The friends’ counsel from wrong assumptions can’t help Job

And so, what these friends are telling Job just can’t be trusted. They’re speaking falsehood and lies to him. And so, Job ends his speech to them in verse 34 by asserting that their counsel which is based on wrong assumptions cannot help him at all.

34 How then [comfort/console] ye me [in vain/with futile words],
seeing in your answers there [remaineth/is nothing but] falsehood?

And yet – despite this warning from Job – the sad reality is that next time in chapter 22 – Eliphaz is going to once again accuse Job of being wicked. We’ll see that next time.

Job 20 Commentary

And so here we find ourselves in Job chapter 20 for this Job 20 commentary.

Job 20 Commentary: Zophar is Influenced to Respond 

Where in verses 1-3, Zophar is influenced to respond to Job. 

KJV Job 20:1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, 

2 [Therefore do/This is why] my [thoughts/troubled thoughts/disquieting thoughts] cause me to ,
[and for this/even because of ] [I make haste/my inward agitation/my feelings within me]. 

3 I have heard the [check/reproof] [of my reproach/that insults me/that dishonors me],
and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer. 

So, Zophar is saying that he’s responding to Job because Job rebuked him and that insulted Zophar. 

Not the best reason to open your mouth. He’s not responding out of patient love. He’s responding out of a hurt ego and personal pride. 

Job 20 Commentary: You Ought to Know 

But personal pride and ego are all we get from these three friends. 

And so it makes sense that starting in verse 4 Zophar brings to Job’s attention a few things that Job should have known all along.  

Zophar proudly asserts a few things about the way the wicked man is dealt with in this life that Zophar himself  – the very wise and learned and understanding man that he is – has learned in his lifetime. 

4 Knowest thou not this of old,
since man was placed upon earth, 

Job 20 Commentary: Brief Duration of the Wicked Man’s Joy and Existence 

And the first thing that Zophar wants Job to know in verses 5-9 is that the wicked man might exist for a while in this life – hey, he might even have some joy – but these will be brief in duration for him. 

5 That the [triumphing/elation] of the wicked is [short/brief],
and the joy of the [hypocrite/godless] but for a moment? 

6 Though his [excellency/loftiness/stature] [mount up/reaches] to the heavens,
and his head [reach unto/touches] the clouds; 

7 Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung:
they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? 

8 He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found:
yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night. 

9 The eye also which saw him shall see him no more;
neither shall his place any more behold him. 

So, that’s pleasant. Job pleaded with these men for mercy in chapter 19 and what does he get from Zophar? Well, whatever it is, it isn’t mercy. 

Zophar is telling Job that the wicked man is not long for this life. And by extension, he’s warning and threatening Job that if he doesn’t turn from his sin that Zophar supposes that Job is engaged in – well, Job is a goner. 

Job 20 Commentary: The Poor 

And so, then, Zophar moves on to accuse Job of something specific. What is Job’s sin? Well, he’s been spending a good bit of time denying his friend’s accusations. And so, Zophar now feels the need to get specific with Job. 

In particular, Zophar wants to remind Job that wicked men oppress the poor. That’s not an accusation that any of the friends have made yet against Job. But Zophar is now starting to suspect that Job was being unjust to the poor. And so, Zophar declares that his children will need to make matters right with the poor people that Job has oppressed. 

10 His children [shall seek to please/must recompense] the poor,
and his hands shall [restore/give back] [their goods/his wealth]. 

And I find this statement to be bizarre. Job has no children any more. And so – if Zophar is trying to make a point and accuse Job of something – why bring up what the wicked man’s children are going to have to do – seeing that Job has none? 

Job 20 Commentary: Only the Wicked Die Young 

Then, Zophar continues and declares to Job that the wicked man typically dies in the prime of his life with strength and vitality. 

11 His bones are full [of the sin of his youth/of his youthful vigor],
which [i.e., vigor…] shall lie down with him in the dust. 

Job 20 Commentary: Wicked Man’s Consumption 

And then Zophar goes on to speak of the wicked man – and he seems to be preoccupied with the metaphor of eating and consumption in verses 12-16. 

12 Though [wickedness/evil] be sweet in his mouth,
though he hide it under his tongue; 

13 Though he [spare/desires/retains for himself] it, and [forsake it not/won’t let it go];
but keep it still within his mouth: 

14 Yet his [meat/food] in his [bowels/stomach] is turned [i.e., sour…],
it is the [gall/venom] of [asps/cobras/serpents] within him. 

So, the wicked loves wickedness so much it’s as if he devours it. And it turns out to give him heartburn, as it were. Even worse – poison! 

But not only does the wicked eat wickedness – he also eats riches in verses 15. 

15 He hath swallowed down riches,
and he shall vomit them up again:
God shall cast them out of his belly. 

And so, the wicked man tries to devour riches – but God won’t let him have them. 

And so, the wicked man is consigned to eating poison in verse 16. 

16 He shall suck the poison of [asps/cobras/serpents]:
the viper’s [tongue/fangs] shall slay him. 

And this approach that Zophar is taking is really crude – if you haven’t noticed. He’s spoken of dung or human refuse – of swallowing and vomiting – of sucking poison. It’s almost like Zophar wants to shock Job into buying his evidence that he thinks will convince Job to fess-up and admit that he’s hiding secret sin that God is punishing him for. 

Job 20 Commentary: More of the Eating Metaphor 

Well, more about food – verse 17. 

17 He shall not [see/look at (or on)] the [rivers/streams],
the [floods/rivers], [the brooks of/flowing with/which are torrents of] honey and butter. 

And more of the eating metaphor in verse 18. 

18 That which he [labored for/attained] shall he [restore/give back],
and shall not [swallow it down/assimilate it]:  

according to his substance shall the restitution be,
and he shall not rejoice therein. 

So, the wicked man – according to verses 18 and 19 which we just read will have a bunch of things. But in the end he just needs to give all of it back. 

And I imagine that Zophar is seeing this happening in Job’s life. God took all of his stuff – see – he must be wicked – because this only happen to wicked people! 

Job 20 Commentary: Poor Again 

And once more, Zophar narrows-in on the kind of sin he believes that Job has committed – he’s oppressed the poor – verse 19. 

19 Because he hath oppressed and hath [forsaken/abandoned] the poor;
because he hath [violently taken away/seized] an house which he builded not; 

And so, this is why God is punishing Job in Zophar’s mind – he’s been evil to poor needy helpless individuals. 

And what’s so interesting with Zophar grasping on to this particular sin that he thinks that Job is committing is that he has done nothing to inquire of the validity of these accusations. He’s not asking Job any questions. He – as far as we know – hasn’t conducted any research. He’s just guessing! 

And that’s what all these friends are doing. They see Job’s suffering and they immediately assume that he’s done something wrong. And so, they pull out of their hat whatever sin they think he’s committed – and without a shred of integrity they hurl that accusation at their friend and see if it will stick. 

This is not the way to deal with people – even when you think they’ve sinned. Don’t assume. Do the research. 

 Job 20 Commentary: More Digestion

And yet, Zophar isn’t going to do anything of the sort. And so, he continues in verses 20-23 to use the digestive metaphor to assert that wicked men will ultimately have nothing in this life because God will give it to the needy. 

20 Surely he shall not feel [quietness/satisfaction] in his [belly/appetite],
he shall not [save/retain anything] of that which he desired. 

21 There shall [none of his meat/nothing for him to devour] be left;
therefore shall [no man look for/it not last (or endure)] his [goods/prosperity]. 

22 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be [in straits/cramped/distressed]:
[every hand of the wicked/the hand of everyone who suffers/the full force of misery] shall come [upon/against] him. 

23 When he is about to fill his belly,
God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him,
and shall rain it upon him while he is eating. 

So, I hope we’re catching on to the fact that Zophar is continuing in various ways to speak of eating and digestion. 

And I hope no one accuses me of being light with God’s word when I suggest that perhaps at this point in the debate, Zophar in particular is getting really hungry. 

I don’t know what else might explain how much this man talks about eating in this chapter. In fact, maybe that’s why he doesn’t come back for a third lecture at Job. This is Zophar’s second and last denunciation of Job. The other two friends end up getting a third shot at him. And some wonder why Zophar doesn’t speak a third time. I am starting to wonder if the guy was so hungry that he spent much of his second lecture speaking of food – and then by the time his turn rolls around next he’s gone finding food somewhere. 

Maybe that’s not the real story. But it’s an intriguing possibility – if not a bit of comic relief in the midst of a message explaining a passage of Scripture that isn’t very happy and is portraying accurately a man who is not speaking truth. Or at least, he’s not applying truth accurately. 

Well, let’s move on. 

Job 20 Commentary: Weapons Attack the Wicked 

Zophar finally removes food from his mind for a few moments – long enough in order to speak of the fact that wicked men are inevitably attacked with weapons. 

24 He [shall/may] flee from the iron weapon,
and the bow of [steel/bronze] shall [strike/pierce] him through. 

25 It is drawn, and cometh out of [the body/his back];
yea, the glittering [sword/point] cometh out of his [gall/liver]:
terrors [are/come] upon him. 

And once more here we see Zophar’s total lack of decorum and appropriateness. It’s as if he glories in the gory. He pictures the process of an arrow piercing into a man’s liver and the glittering bile that he envisions dripping from the tip of the arrow. 

And, to any normal person, this level of detail and the enthusiasm with which Zophar gives it would be just uncomfortable. And so, if I’m still wondering why this is Zophar’s last speech in this book, I start to wonder if maybe even his two friends – when his turn comes around next time – if they’re just like “Hey, Zophar, don’t worry about it. We got this. No more need to hear about glittering bile and vomit and dung. Just maybe go get yourself some food or something. 

Again, a little humor – but maybe not too far off from the explanation as to why this is Zophar’s last speech. 

Job 20 Commentary: Total Destruction 

And last, Zophar in verses 26-28 speaks of the total destruction of the wicked man. 

26 [All/Complete/Total] darkness [shall be hid/is held in reserve/waits to receive] [in his secret places/for his treasures]:
a fire [not blown/unfanned/that hasn’t been kindled] shall consume him;
it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle. 

So, his stuff, himself, and his dependents will all be swallowed into total darkness.  

27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity;
and the earth shall rise up against him. 

So, from the highest to the lowest, the wicked man’s sin will not be hidden. 

28 The increase of his house shall depart,
and his goods shall flow away in the day of [his/God’s] wrath. 

And that’s the key – God’s wrath. God is angry at Job. That’s why bad things are happening to Job. What else could cause this?! 

And with that, Zophar speaks his last sentence and bows out of the scene. 

29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God,
and the heritage [appointed/decreed] unto him by God. 

So, God is punishing Job for his sin – in particular the supposed fact that Job has oppressed the poor. Case closed. Zophar will say no more. 

And yet, Job will say more. And in particular, next time in chapter 21 he is going to speak very plainly to these men that oftentimes wicked men do not meet with the fate that these three friends keep saying they meet with. Oftentimes, wicked men prosper. That’s what we’ll study next time, Lord-willing. 

Job 19 Commentary

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Job 19 for this Job 19 commentary. 

Job 19 Commentary: Taking Issue with Mistreatment 

Job begins his rebuttal to Bildad’s speech from back in chapter 18 by taking issue with the mistreatment that he’s experiencing – not only from Bildad, but from all three of these men. And he does this in verses 1-6. 

KJV Job 19:1 Then Job answered and said, 

2 How long will ye [vex my soul/torment me],
and [break me in pieces/crush me] with words? 

3 These ten times have ye [reproached/insulted] me:
ye are not ashamed that ye [make yourselves strange to/wrong/attack] me. 

Now, up to now, the order of speeches from these friends has been: 

  1. Eliphaz 1 
  2. Bildad 1 
  3. Zophar 1 
  4. Eliphaz 2 
  5. Bildad 2 

And now Job is speaking. 

So, I’m not sure if Job is considering each of these men’s speeches against him to be something of a double attack. Or maybe he’s using the number ten as a round number that indicates that they’re doing this often to him. I think that either of these options is acceptable. 

But, the point is that Job is getting really tired of these men and their accusatory and inflammatory speeches against him. 

Job 19 Commentary: My Sin is None of Your Business! 

And so, Job goes on to admonish them that even if he has sinned – like they are all vehemently asserting – that’s none of their business, anyway! 

4 [And be it indeed that/Even if/But even if it were true that] I have erred,
mine error [remaineth with myself/lodges within me/remains solely my concern]. 

Job 19 Commentary: But God is Still Treating Me Wrong! 

And so, as Job continues in the realm of “what-ifs” regarding the potential that God really is punishing some sort of sin that’s unknown to him but is well known to God – Job is going to tell his friends that even if his friends could somehow find this sin and prove that Job has committed it – Job still feels like God is treating him unjustly. 

5 If indeed ye [will magnify/would vaunt/would exalt] yourselves [against/above] me,
and [plead/prove] [against/to] me my reproach: 

6 Know now that God hath [overthrown/wronged] me,
and hath [compassed/closed around/encircled] me with his net. 

Job 19 Commentary: How God Has Wronged Him 

And so, Job has asserted that God is treating him unjustly. And so, now in verses 7-13 Job is going to outline how he perceives that God has wronged him. 

7 [Behold/If], I cry out [of wrong/Violence!], but I [am not heard/get no answer]:
I cry aloud [i.e., for help…], but there is no [judgment/justice]. 

So, Job’s cries for help are being unanswered by God. Indeed, it feels to Job as if God himself is the one who is committing violence and wrong against him. 

Job 19 Commentary: “He Hath…” 

And so, Job gives the next six verses to stating what God has done to him. And all of these “he hath” statements that we’ll see in verses 8-13 are Job’s proof that God is treating him wrong – violently – unjustly. 

8 He hath [fenced up/walled up/blocked] my way [that/so that] I cannot pass,
and he hath [set/put] darkness [in/on/over] my paths. 

9 He hath stripped [me of my glory/my honor from me],
and taken the crown from my head. 

10 He [hath destroyed me/breaks me down/tears me down] on every side, [and/until] I [am gone/perish]:
and mine hope hath he [removed/uprooted] like a tree. 

11 He hath also kindled his wrath against me,
and he [counteth/considers] me unto him as one of his enemies. 

12 His troops [come/advance] together,
and [raise/build/throw] up their [way/siege ramp] against me,
and encamp round about my [tabernacle/tent]. 

13 He hath put my [brethren/relatives] far from me,
and mine acquaintance are [verily/completely] estranged from me. 

And it’s interesting to see the progression of Job’s thoughts here. He spends most of verses 8-13 speaking of what he perceives that God is doing to him to wrong him.  

But then at the end of this section in verse 13 he still has his focus on what God is doing to him. And yet, Job is now starting to shift his focus a bit to what other people are doing to wrong him. It’s still all under God’s control and so God still gets the blame. But under God’s sovereignty, Job is now going to start complaining about how men are wronging him. 

Job 19 Commentary: How others have wronged Job 

And so, we now turn our attention to verses 14-19 where Job outlines how others have wronged him. 

14 My [kinsfolk/relatives/kinsmen] have failed,
and my [familiar/intimate] friends have forgotten me. 

15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, [count/consider] me for a stranger:
I am [an alien/a foreigner] in their sight. 

16 I [called/summon] my servant, [and/but] he [gave me no answer/does not respond];
[i.e., even though…] I [intreated/implore] him with my [i.e., own…] mouth. 

17 My breath is [strange/offensive/repulsive] to my wife,
though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body [or, I am loathsome to my brothers…]. 

18 [Yea/Even], [young children/youngsters] [despised/have scorned] me;
[i.e., When…] I arose, and they [spake against/scoff at] me. 

19 All my [inward/closest] friends [abhorred/detest] me:
and they whom I loved are turned against me. 

So, you name the relation in Job’s life – and they’ve all treated him poorly. His kinsfolk, friends, housemates, maids, servants, his own wife, young children, closest friends, and those whom Job loved – all of them have turned away from him. 

Job is utterly forsaken – both by God and by man. 

Job 19 Commentary: Physical Difficulties 

And as if those relational difficulties aren’t enough, Job has physical issues to deal with. 

20 My bone [cleaveth/clings/sticks] to my skin and to my flesh,
and I am escaped with [i.e., only…] the skin of my teeth. 

Job 19 Commentary: An Appeal to the Friends 

And this is where Job is going with all of this. He lists all of his troubles – not just in order to complain – but rather, he is appealing for some mercy from these friends of his, who have been showing no mercy. 

21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends;
for the hand of God hath [touched/struck] me. 

22 Why do ye persecute me [as/like] God,
and are not [satisfied/satiated] with my flesh? 

So, as if God’s apparent persecution of Job weren’t enough, these friends have added to his troubles. 

Job 19 Commentary: Wishing for a Future Audience 

And even though Job appealed to his friends for pity, yet he knows that he’s going to receive none from them. They’re going to be just as harsh to him as others are – and even as he perceives God to be. 

And so – since no one is listening to Job’s pitiable cries for mercy – that leads this man to wish aloud for an ability to have his words recorded forever in the hopes that someone along the way in the future might be able to come across Job’s arguments and sympathize with him. 

23 Oh that my words were now written!
oh that they were printed [in a book/on a scroll]! 

24 That they were [graven/engraved] with an iron [pen/stylus/chisel] and [i.e., with…] lead in [the/a] rock for ever! 

And I think it’s ironic that Job got just what he was asking for. The fact that we’re considering his words – that are written in a book – is testimony to the fact that Job got what he wanted. We are listening to and we are sympathizing with this man thousands of years after his words were recorded in this book. He has his audience. 

Job 19 Commentary: My Redeemer 

And yet, when it comes down to it, we’re not the audience that he really wants. At the very least, we’re not the audience that he really needs. 

How do we know that? Well, in verses 25-27 Job identifies the ultimate audience that he’s really looking to hear him. It’s one that he identifies as “my Redeemer” – who is none other than “God” himself. 

25 [For/As for me] I know that my redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 

26 And [though after my skin worms destroy this body/even after my skin is destroyed],
yet in my flesh shall I see God: 

27 Whom I shall see for myself,
and mine eyes shall behold, and not another;  

though my [reins/heart] [be consumed/grows faint/faints] within me. 

So, Job is showing signs of growth here in the midst of his awful trials. 

He recognizes that God is sovereignly – and to him, inexplicably – bringing some serious suffering into his life. And that fact shakes him to the core. 

And yet, he’s able to – in the very same chapter in which he recognizes this reality – identify this God who is bringing so much difficulty into his life as his “redeemer.” 

And Job doesn’t merely recognize who God is to him – his redeemer. He declares that God will stand on the earth on the last day and that even though Job is dead by that point – he will somehow amazingly see God in his flesh! 

And for the New Testament believer, it’s difficult to miss that he’s speaking of Jesus Christ. God the Father doesn’t have a body. God the Son does. God the Father is not going to stand on the earth at the last day. But God the Son – Jesus Christ – will stand on the earth at the last day. 

So, Job is amazingly prophesying that Jesus Christ is coming. And we can identify this as Jesus’ second coming – that is yet future even to us. But it will surely happen. 

But Job also testifies to another teaching found elsewhere in Scripture. And that is the resurrection of believers’ bodies. Job says that there will be a time when his physical body is destroyed. But in the same breath he seems to contradict himself by declaring that he will see God in his flesh. 

But isn’t his flesh destroyed? Yes – but believers get new bodies in the resurrection. And we will stand upon the earth at the last day with Christ. 

This is amazing. One of the most ancient characters in the known history of our world – and he’s affirming two doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith – and what’s more – they’re realities that haven’t happened yet – Christ’s second coming and the resurrection of the righteous! 

So, I think we see Job growing here in his faith. He’s still trying to sort through the troubling realities of his current situation. And yet, he’s also revealing a faith that is deep and orthodox and increasing in some ways. 

Job 19 Commentary: To the Friends 

But at the same time, I’m afraid that we don’t see this kind of development in Job’s friends. 

And so, it’s to these three men – who are in some ways beyond hope – that Job now turns to end chapter 19. 

28 But [ye should/should (or if) ye] say,  

[Why/How will] [persecute we/we pursue] him,
[seeing/since] the root of the [matter/trouble] is found in [me/him]? 

29 Be ye afraid of the sword:
for wrath bringeth the punishments [of/by] the sword,
that ye may know there is a judgment. 

And it’s difficult to know what to make of this statement by Job. It sounds like a threat. As if Job were threatening these men with a sword if they continue to accuse him wrongly of sinning and bringing God’s judgement upon himself in that way. 

I’m pretty sure that Job’s not threatening to brandish a sword against these men himself. But you never know – especially with a man who is undergoing extreme suffering. But whomever is wielding the sword in Job’s mind – Job is assuring these men that their lack of godly care and consideration for this suffering man will not go unpunished ultimately. 

And you can be sure that that kind of threat is not going to go unanswered. And so, we’re going to see Zophar – the last in order of the three friends – give his second lecture to Job in chapter 20. 

Job 18 Commentary

Let’s turn in our Bibles to the Book of Job and chapter number 18 for this Job 18 commentary.

I want us to picture in our mind an equation.  

On the left side of that equation you have the word “Reality.”  

Then there’s an equal sign (=).  

And to the right of that equal sign you have two constants.  

The first of those two constants is “God’s Goodness” – that’s his moral excellence. His kindness and love and compassion and benevolence and on and on. 

Then you have a plus sign. 

And the second constant is “God’s Greatness” – that’s his sovereignty and power and control and perfect knowledge and so forth. 

So – can you picture that equation in your mind? Realty = God’s Goodness + God’s Greatness. 

God is good. God is great. And that’s the sum of reality as we know it. 

What do you think about that equation? There’s some legitimacy to it.  

But, I can tell you what Job’s friends thought about that equation. They would have considered that equation to be absolutely irrefutably true. 

God is good. He loves justice and righteousness. On the other side, God hates wickedness. That’s because he is morally good. 

And then God’s greatness comes along and sees to it that all infringements of moral uprightness are immediately punished in this life. God sovereignly executes judgement against the wicked. 

And so, it’s quite natural that these men are putting Job’s situation into this grid – this equation. And even though Job is claiming personal innocence and moral uprightness – that’s just not how the equation works, Job! No, if you were morally upright, God would sovereignly reward you. 

Because reality – all we know and experience – is that God is good and God is great – and therefore, Job, we’re seeing your demise and we know that it’s nothing else than the punishing hand of God crushing your wickedness in his holy grasp. 

But there’s good news, Job! God is good. If you repent of your sin – which is apparently secret to even us – but not to God! – if you repent, God is good and will restore you. 

And Job himself would have been inclined to accept this equation of reality. And yet, what he’s coming to understand more and more is that there is a variable in that equation that these friends of his are not aware of. 

The two constants of God’s goodness and God’s greatness don’t fully explain Job’s reality anymore. They used to. But ever since that heavenly wager between God and Satan – that Job has no clue about – things have been different for Job. 

And so, that variable that should be added to the equation of reality is “Evil.”  

Reality = God’s Goodness + God’s Greatness + … Evil!  

Bad things. Catastrophe. The suffering of – not the wicked only – but indeed – even the righteous! 

But the insertion of evil into the equation of reality is something Job’s friends are not at all ready to grapple with in any meaningful way. 

And so, we enter the 18th chapter of the book of Job with yet another speech from one of Job’s friends. 

And in this chapter, Bildad gets his second chance to try to get Job to buy in to this equation of reality – while he ignores the reality of unexplainable evil and suffering in this world that’s run by a good and great God. 

And so, we’re going to see now Bildad answering Job – and even his fellow-friends somewhat – in one single chapter. 

The Opening Insult 

And so, in verses 1 and 2 Bildad starts his speech the way you would to anyone who’s not buying into your system of thinking. He insults not only Job – but he insults even his fellow-would-be-comforters. 

KJV Job 18:1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, 

2 How long will it be ere ye [i.e., plural ] make an end of words?
[mark/show understanding/you must consider], and [afterwards/then] we [will speak/can talk]. 

So, Bildad comes into his second speech with a great deal of arrogance. 

And he demonstrates that by both putting others down and by bolstering himself up. 

He puts everyone else in the group down as he uses the plural form of the second-person personal pronoun – “ye” in King James Version English. 

And this is the only place I could find in which one of these friends addresses the whole group. Usually they address only Job. But here Bildad is so elevated in his own estimation of himself and his insights that he’s ready to rebuke and insult not only Job – but also the rest of the guys who are ready to rebuke and insult Job. 

Then, Bildad bolsters himself in everyone’s eyes. He speaks very condescendingly as he tells probably just Job now to “mark” or to start showing some understanding or start considering the very wise things that Bildad has to say. 

And if Job starts considering what these men – and in particular Bildad himself – have to say – well then, they can talk to him. 

And yet, Bildad shows that he is determined to speak – whether or not Job listens and shows any sort of understanding that would meet with Bildad’s approval. 

Narrowing-in on Job 

And so, Bildad continues to narrow-in on Job in verses 3 and 4 as he expresses shock at Job’s light estimation of his friends’ supposed wisdom. 

3 [Wherefore/Why] [are/should] we [counted/regarded] as beasts,
and [reputed/considered] [vile/stupid] in your sight? 

4 [He/You who] teareth [i.e., to pieces…] [himself/yourself] in [his/your] anger:
shall the earth be [forsaken/abandoned] for [thee/your sake]?
and shall the rock be removed out of his place? 

So, I sense this defensiveness from Bildad in verse 3 and into the first statement of verse 4. He’s exasperated that Job would think so little of his great and superior wisdom! He’s truly offended that Job would insinuate that Bildad and his companions are as wise as mere animals. 

And so, Bildad turns around and takes a swipe at Job. Well Job, look at you tearing at yourself in your anger! What’s wrong with you? It’s like you’re suffering or something! Get a hold of yourself, man! Who’s the real brute beast here – us or you?? 

And then Bildad asked two questions at the end of verse 4 that expressed his total confusion as to why Job would ever attempt to question their equation of reality.  

To Bildad, it seems that Job is trying to be secretly wicked and escape the punishment that a good and great God needs to inflict on people like Job who are bucking his moral order. And of course – in Bildad’s mind – to suggest that Job is exempt from the “way things work” in this world is tantamount to causing the earth to be bereft of people or a large unmovable stone to be moved from its place. In a word – it’s impossible! 

The Punishment of the Wicked 

And so, Bildad takes the rest of his response to Job and he highlights what he is very sure happens to wicked people.  

And because what’s happening to Job is very similar to what the wicked experience – Bildad draws the conclusion that Job must be wicked! 

The Lights Go Out 

And so, Bildad begins in verses 5 and 6 by using the metaphor of light to describe the wicked man’s life coming to nothing – just like Job’s life seems to be doing! 

5 [Yea/Indeed/Yes], the [light/lamp] of the wicked [shall be put out/goes out/is extinguished],
and the [spark/flame] of his fire shall not shine. 

6 The light shall [be/grow] dark in his [tabernacle/tent],
and his [candle/lamp] shall be put out [with/above] him. 

So, notice the references to light, spark, fire, and candle. And how these things are put out and not shining and growing dark. 

That’s how Bildad envisions what happens to wicked men who cross God. God will immediately deal with them – just like he’s apparently dealing with Job. 

Snared in Traps 

Next, Bildad speaks of the wicked as being caught in traps in verses 7-10.  

And once more, Bildad thinks that this is what’s happening with Job. Job is supposedly hiding secret sins. But at last – he’s been caught – or at least, that’s what Bildad surmises. 

7 The [steps/stride] [of his strength/vigorous] shall be [straitened/shortened/restricted],
and his own [counsel/scheme] [shall cast/brings/throws] him down. 

8 For he [is/has been] [cast/thrown] into a net by his own feet,
and he [walketh/steps/wanders] [upon/on/into] [a snare/the webbing/ a mesh]. 

9 [The gin/A snare/A trap] [shall take/seizes] him by the heel,
and [the robber/a trap/a snare] [shall prevail against/snaps shut on/grips] him. 

10 [The snare/A noose/A rope] is [laid/hidden] for him [in/on] the ground,
and a trap for him [in/on/lies on] the [way/path]. 

So, notice the references to being brought down, cast into a net, walking in to a snare, being trapped by a “gin,” having the robber or trap prevail against him, having a snare laid on the ground for him, having a trap lying secretly on his pathway. 

So, the wicked man can try as he might – he’s still going to be caught. He can be as clever as he wishes – but God is going to get him in this life. 

And actually, Bildad doesn’t explicitly involve God in the laying of these traps for the wicked. The phrase “his own” appears once in both verse 7 and verse 8. In other words, this is just the way of life. This is how things happen. 

Of course, in Bildad’s mind, God is behind all of this. But he’s convinced that God just works this way all of the time with wicked men. And because God appears to be treating Job this way, therefore Job must be wicked! 

According to Bildad, Job had been getting away with his sin for a while – but God has finally started to set off traps for him to run into and be caught. 

Ever-Present Terrors 

And going along with the theme of wicked men – like Bildad thinks Job is – being trapped in a snare – now in verses 11-13 Bildad continues by asserting that the wicked man has terror and destruction closely pursuing him.  

And once more – as Bildad looks at the awful situation that Job is facing – he imagines that this is exactly what’s happening to Job. 

11 Terrors [shall make him afraid/frighten him] on [every side/all sides],
and [shall drive him to his feet/harry him at every step/dog his every step]. 

12 [His/For him] [strength/calamity] [shall be/is] [hungerbitten/famished/hungry],
and [destruction/calamity/misfortune] [shall be/is] ready at his side. 

13 [It/Disease/Calamity] [shall devour/eats away] [the strength/parts] of his skin:
[even the firstborn of/the most terrible] death [shall devour/devours] his [strength/limbs]. 

And that reference to “the firstborn of death” is likely speaking of the strongest or most terrible death. The deadliest death. In the Old Testament we hear men calling their firstborn the beginning of his strength. It’s the highest – the best. And so, when Bildad speaks of the firstborn of death, he’s speaking of the worst kind or the strongest kind of death. 

And so, we just saw Bildad speak to the most terrible death, destruction, hunger, and general terrors. All of these realities meet the wicked man in this life and they make him afraid, they devour his strength, they are ready at his side – they’re unavoidable – they devour his skin – and then for good measure Bildad repeats once more – just so that Job would take special note of it – hey Job, these things devour the strength of the wicked. 

And I think there’s a reason that Bildad keeps speaking of the devouring of what the wicked hold dear and precious. Because Bildad is trying to convict Job of serious offences against God. And he’s coming up with evidence to convict. 

One piece of evidence is that everything that Job had and loved and that made Job strong – has indeed been – to use Bildad’s favorite word in verses 11-13 – devoured! Even the man’s skin is appearing to be devoured with all of the boils he had. 

So – once more – Bildad is bringing evidence that he believes proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Job is a wicked man. It didn’t appear to anyone like that at first, but Bildad is now convinced that Job has committed some seriously-awful sins that have gone hidden. But now God has caught him and surrounded him with terrors. 

Dwelling Place Not Safe 

Furthermore, Bildad in verses 14 and 15 insists that the wicked man is in constant danger – even in his own home – the place that he would assume that’s he’s safest and most protected.  

And yet again – Bildad is surely casting a belittling look at Job as he’s making strong inference that Job himself is experiencing this very fate that the wicked man can expect. 

14 His [confidence/sense of safety or security] [shall be rooted out of/is torn from/is dragged from] his [tabernacle/tent],
and [it shall bring/they march] him to the king of terrors. 

15 [It/There] [shall dwell/dwells] in his [tabernacle/tent], [because it is none/nothing] of his: [or, fire resides in his tent…]
[brimstone/burning sulfur] [shall be/is] scattered [upon/on/over] his [habitation/residence]. 

So, we note the references to awful things happening in the place in which the wicked man feels safest. We hear several times of tabernacles or tents and habitations. 

But just when he feels safe – there come terror and uprooting and even brimstone! In the end, the wicked man is left with nothing that is actually his in his tent – it’s all gone. 

And by the way, I get to this point, and I am shocked at Bildad. He and his two friends came to Job originally to do what? To comfort the poor suffering man. Let me ask you – have you heard a word of comfort in this entire chapter? Not at all! 

What is wrong with this guy? Can’t he just stop talking? 

The answer? No. In fact, he has a few more verses to go! 

Agricultural Withering 

And so, next, in verse 16, Bildad compares the wicked man – and, of course, Job – to a tree or plant that is withering. 

16 His roots [shall be dried up/are dried/dry up] [beneath/below],
and above [shall/is] his branch [be cut off/wither]. 

That’s total destruction. If a tree’s branches wither, there can still be hope that there’s some life left in the roots. And when a tree’s roots wither – maybe there’s some sap left in the branches to go back down to the roots and help strengthen them. 

And yet, when a tree has both branch and root rotting, it’s done for. 

And that’s the message of comfort – apparently – that Bildad wants to relate to his suffering friend Job. Wow. 

No One Remembers 

Well, moving on, in verses 17-19 Bildad declares that wicked men – of which Job surely is one – experience a great deal of isolation in this life and for years to come.  

And of course – Bildad is looking at this man – Job – who is living in the city’s garbage dump on the outskirts of humanity – forsaken and forgotten by all – and he’s putting two and two together in his mind and coming up with fool-proof evidence that Job is a secretly-wicked man! 

17 [His remembrance/Memory of him/His memory] [shall perish/perishes] from the earth,
and he [shall have/has] no name [in the street/abroad/in the land]. 

18 He [shall be/is] driven from light into darkness,
and [chased/is banished] [out/from] of the [world/inhabited world]. 

19 He [shall neither have son nor nephew/has no offspring or posterity/has neither children nor descendants] among his people,
[nor any remaining/nor any survivor/no survivor] [in/where/in those places] [his dwellings/he sojourned/he once stayed]. 

So, note the isolation. He is isolated – all alone – because no one remembers him, because he has no name or recognition abroad. He’s isolated in the fact that he’s driven from the light to the darkness here no one can see him – banished from the world of men to be lonely and unknown. The wicked man is isolated from posterity in that these people will not survive to continue living in the places where he wicked man lived. 

And so, it’s not hard to see why Bildad brings out this evidence as he convicts Job. Job’s location on the outskirts of humanity indicates isolation and so does the fact that he lost all of his children and most of his servants. 

A Breadth of Astonishment 

And so, last, in verses 20 and 21 Bildad envisions the wicked man being the source of astonishment to men from all over the place – as they witness the devastation that he has been outlining in this chapter and that he’s been drawing strong inferences and conclusion to the life of his suffering friend Job. 

20 [They that come after him/Those in the west/People of the west] [shall be astonied/are appaled] at his [day/fate],
[as they that went before/and those in the east/people of the east] [were affrighted/are seized with horror]. 

21 [i.e., Saying…] Surely such [are/is] the [dwellings/residence] of [the wicked/an evil man],
and this is the place of him that knoweth not God. 

So, people from west to east – from before and after – they will all come together and confess the sentiments of verse 21 – that this wicked man is getting exactly what he deserves. And he’s earned this treatment because he doesn’t know God and is wicked. 

And that’s where Bildad ends. On a note of discouragement and destruction and coldness. 

All because Job will not get with the program and realize that he must be a sinner for God to treat him the way he’s treating him. 

And yet, Job is not suffering for his sin. And so, he’ll be obliged to respond to this miserable comfort next time in chapter 19. 

Job 17 Commentary, Summary

Open to Job 17 for this Job 17 commentary.

The Old Testament book of Job and the 17th chapter.

We studied Job, chapter 16 last time where Job was responding to Eliphaz.

And there, in chapter 16, Job had ended there speaking of how he despaired of life.

Job 17 Commentary: Focused on Dying

And so, Job continues into chapter 17 the way he ended chapter 16 – that is, still focused on dying.

17:1 My [breath/spirit] is [corrupt/broken],
my days [are extinct/are extinguished/have faded out],
the [graves are/grave is] ready for me.

And so, Job focuses on his prospects – which he can only conclude will be his physical demise.

Job 17 Commentary: Friends are Mockers

And yet, the only thing worse than death for Job are these friends of his who continue to provoke Job by their unhelpful counsel and demeanor.

2 Are there not mockers with me? [i.e., Surely there are!…]
and doth not mine eye [continue in/gaze on/dwell on] their [provocation/hostility]? [i.e., it does!…]

Can you imagine the looks on the faces of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar as Job says this about them? Do you think they would look shocked? Maybe angry even?

Job is calling them mockers and saying that they are provoking him – and he’s saying this to their faces.

This is the result of their failed attempt to comfort this man with their worldly man-made wisdom – that just doesn’t apply to Job in this situation in his life.

Job 17 Commentary: Asking God for a Pledge

Well, next it seems that Job directly addresses God and asks him to defend him before these accusing friends.

3 Lay down now, [put me in a surety/a pledge for me] with thee;
who is he that will [strike hands with me/be my guarantor/put up security for me]?

So, the wording in verse 3 is rather difficult to understand at first. But basically, it’s Job lacking anyone else who can vouch for his righteousness. And so, Job turns to the one who is seemingly punishing him – and asking him to testify to Job’s righteousness to these accusing men.

Job 17 Commentary: God Punishing via Friends

And in Job’s mind – in addition to punishing Job with painful physical ailments and taking his children and all his earthly possessions from him – God has crowned all of this trouble by sending these dreadful friends to him. And in Job’s mind, it’s actually God who is hiding the truth of Job’s situation from them.

4 For thou hast [hid/kept/closed] their [heart/minds] from understanding:
therefore shalt thou not exalt them.

And so, even though God – according to Job – is causing these friends to totally miss the truth concerning Job’s innocence – their reckless and unloving accusations against this man will not be blessed by God.

God can use individuals for his purpose without actually endorsing what they’re doing. And that’s what Job is saying here about these friends. God is using them to beat Job down. And yet, just because God is utilizing them for this task doesn’t mean that he’s happy with their actions and words.

Kind of like how the Lord used Babylon to chasten Judah in the Old Testament. He used Babylon – but they took things too far and so they ended up being punished by the Lord as well.

Job 17 Commentary: Threats to the Friends

And with all of that mind, Job uses this opportunity to speak a word of threatening and denunciation against these so-called friends of his.

5 He that [speaketh flattery to/informs against for a share of the spoil/denounces for personal gain] his friends,
even the eyes of his children shall [fail/languish].

Now, “flattery” is from a Hebrew word that seems to have two forms. In one form it can speak of what the KJV says – “flattery” – speaking swelling words that are untrue or embellished for the sake of winning someone over.

But the other form of this word means “a share of property.” So, in that case, Job is accusing these men of speaking against him for the sake of gaining something out of the situation.

And so, we wonder what Job is talking about. Didn’t he just lose everything? What s Job thinking that these men would be looking to take from him?

Well, although Job lost his livestock and children and servants – he probably still owned property. His wife apparently still was living somewhere – probably not in the garbage dump with him. She was probably living at the home that they had on the property that they owned.

And, Job – for whatever reason – is insinuating that these men are speaking lies about him by accusing him of secret sin that doesn’t actually exist in his life – and that they’re doing this to get what little earthly possessions he still has – in particular, apparently, his land.

And Job just wants these gentlemen to know that God will not look kindly on that type of behavior. He will cause the eyes of their children to fail. That’s what Job is threatening and warning these friends of his about.

Job 17 Commentary: Back to God

But Job can’t stay with this thought of his friends experiencing retribution for their abuse of himself for very long. And so, we’ll see him a few times switch back and forth between taking jabs at his friends and then addressing how God is – in his mind – mistreating him. So, verse 6 is where he switches his focus from his friends to God.

6 He hath made me also a byword of the people;
and aforetime I was as a tabret.

So, Job is a byword to people. That is, he’s become a proverb of suffering to those who know of him. He is the classic case of one who suffers.

And then Job says that he’s a tabret. That word appears once in the Old Testament and that’s of course right here. There are two possibilities as to what this word means.

First, it could be something into which people would spit. And that idea is bolstered by the fact that aforetime in verse 6 is the word for face. So, then Job is saying that he’s a proverb of suffering – and in fact, people are spitting in his face, as it were.

The other possibility as to what this word tabret means as we have it in the KJV is that it’s a small drum. And what do people do with drums? They beat them. And so, if that’s what this word means, then Job is saying that people are beating on him, so to speak.

Either way, Job is lamenting the fact that people are not being kind to him. They’re using him as a proverbial example of one who suffers. And then in light of that they’re either beating on him or spitting on him.

Job 17 Commentary: Eye Problems

And even though Job a few verses ago threatened his friends that their pursuit of his property through their lying about him was going to result in their children having eye problems – Job has to now admit in verse 7 that it’s he himself who is currently having his eyes affected by his current predicament.

7 Mine eye also [is/has grown] dim by reason of [sorrow/grief],
and [all my members/my whole frame] [are as/is but] a shadow.

And I’ll just remind us that when people in the Old Testament speak of their eyes being dim, they’re indicating that they’re weeping often.

And isn’t that a good way to describe the way your eyes get when you cry? With all the tears and puffiness that tends to attend crying – preventing light from coming into the eye like normal – the way you see tends to dim a bit.

But of course, Job would have been experiencing these dynamics to an extreme that few of us might know of on a personal level.

And then, when Job claims that all his body parts put together are just like a shadow, he’s apparently referring to his gaunt appearance – no doubt due to his physical ailments and lack of desire to eat.

So, Job’s eyes are puffy and dim. And he’s thin as a rail.

Job 17 Summary: Shocking

And Job says next that what’s happening to him in these areas and others will shock his fellow-righteous people.

8 Upright men shall be [astonied/appalled] at this,
and the innocent [shall stir up himself/is in trouble] [against/with] the [hypocrite/godless].

So, what is Job saying that upright men will be appalled at? Well – certainly his physical appearance. But I think as well in that statement, Job is including his treatment at the hands of his friends. Upright people will be appalled – astonished – when we hear about how his friends are treating Job.

And in fact, Job is envisioning a time when – as innocent people hear about Job’s abuse by his friends – they will start to stir themselves up against these men – whom Job is now labeling as hypocrites or even godless men.

That’s certainly not how these friends are viewing themselves. They would naturally think of themselves as godly and innocent and upright. I mean – these men have ancient wisdom on their sides and they’re trying their hardest to stop Job from sinning and to get him back to praying. Neither of which is the issue for Job, of course. But they’re trying!

And yet, Job is categorizing these men in a very different way. They’re godless hypocrites in Job’s mind. They’re not helping him to Trust God’s Wisdom. They’re instead errantly trying to force him to Understand God’s Ways. And that’s proving impossible and frustrating to Job.

Job 17 Summary: Contra Friends, Pro Self

And so, Job continues to make a case against his friends and for his own righteousness.

9 The righteous [also/nevertheless/but] shall hold [on/to] his way,
and he that hath clean hands shall [be/grow] stronger and stronger.

And so, Job is saying that he himself – as well as any who are appalled at what is happening to him at the hands of his friends – he and they will continue to just keep on doing what they have been doing.

Even though righteous men like Job are accused wrongfully, they will rise up against their accusers – verse 8 – and now in verse 9 he says that they will just keep on being righteous – despite the attacks from these gainsayers.

And as a result, Job contends that he will grow stronger and stronger. He won’t quit. He’s resolved to keep fighting for his integrity.

Job isn’t going to lie and claim that he has some secret sin that God is punishing him for. No – he’s going to continue to live in integrity.

Job 17 Summary: Friends Are Fools

So, that’s Job’s story.

On the other hand – these friends – according to Job are total fools.

10 But as for you all, [do ye return, and come now/come again now/turn and come now]:
for I cannot find one wise man among you.

So, Job sets up a contrast between himself and these friends. He says that he will grow stronger and stronger as he continues to hold to his righteous ways and contends with hypocrites like them.

And the other hand though – these friends are found lacking by Job. He finds no wise men among them. Job is accusing them of being fools.

And that’s pretty direct and provocative, I’d say! I’m thinking that we’ve transitioned from the point where Job could legitimately call these men friends and would instead need to recognize them as enemies.

Job 17 Summary: A Lamentable Plight

But it’s not as though Job delights in cutting people down – even these three former-friends who have been such a nuisance to him. And so, Job goes back to considering his own lamentable plight.

11 My days [are/have] past,
my [purposes/plans] are [broken off/torn apart/shattered],
even the [thoughts/wishes/desires] of my heart.

So, all of Job’s plans and desires are destroyed and have come to nothing. Life is so hard for him. He feels as though his prime days are gone and that he’s waiting only for death to come to finish him off.

Job 17 Summary: Friends are Oversimplifying

And yet, in light of Job’s pitiable situation, his friends are trying to smooth everything over and tell him that things will be alright if he just confesses to his supposed secret sins and starts praying once more. And so, Job calls out their oversimplification of his ordeal.

12 [They/These men] [change the/make] night into day:
[i.e., saying…/they say…] the light is [short/near] [because/in the face/in the presence] of darkness.

So, all that Job sees is darkness. But these three men who have come to comfort Job – they see the darkness in Job’s life – but they have a fool-proof answer in their minds that will turn night into day for him. The only problem is that Job isn’t suffering for his sins or lack of prayer. And so, ultimately, the suggestions of these friends will not work out for him.

Job 17 Summary: Death and Hopelessness

And since there’s no counsel or advice that can help the poor suffering Job, that leaves him assuming that what’s in store for him is only death. And that leaves him feeling utterly hopeless.

And so, Job starts with two verses of the “if” part of a conditional clause…

13 If I wait, [i.e., for…] the grave [is/to be] mine house:
[i.e., if…] I have [made/spread out] my bed in the darkness.

14 [i.e., if…] I [have said/call/cry] to [corruption/the pit], Thou art my father:
[i.e., and…] to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.

So, that was the “if” – here’s the “then”…

15 [And/Then] where is now my hope?
as for my hope, who shall [see/regards] it?

16 [They/It] shall go down to the [bars/barred gates] of [the pit/Sheol/death][,/?]
when our rest together is in the dust[./?]

So, both Job and his hope will be in the grave soon enough. That’s the only conclusion that Job can reach. Because God is not answering his pleas for mercy and help. And his friends are actually answering him – but in ways that are totally unhelpful for him.

And so, next time we’ll see more unhelpfulness from the second of these three friends – Bildad.

Job 16 Commentary

Let’s open our Bibles to Job, chapter 16 for this Job 16 Commentary.

And as we open to Job 16, we need to remind ourselves of how we got here.

The first few chapters of this book feature a righteous man named Job – for whom life is good. And this man’s righteousness leads God to showcase him to Satan – the unrighteous angel that he is. And that leads Satan to insinuate that Job wouldn’t be righteous anymore if God took his stuff from him. So, God does take Job’s stuff.

Well, then Job’s friends come to him with the desire to comfort – but they just discourage this poor man. Eliphaz had his turn, then Job responded. Then it was Bildad’s time to speak which elicited a response from Job. And last, Zophar spoke and then Job responded to all of them.

So then, last time we saw Eliphaz speak for the second time.

And as we saw, Eliphaz’s response to Job included the following: he insulted Job, he accused Job of offending the friends and attacking God, and then he went into great detail as to how Job’s life matches that of the typical wicked man.

What Eliphaz was trying to do – as all the friends and even Job himself are trying to do – is to make God’s ways make sense.

But sometimes, God doesn’t work like that. Sometimes God’s ways make no sense to us. And so, that’s when the message of this book is so crucial for us to really lay hold of. And that message is – When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom.

And yet – the friends have no desire to just sit around and trust God’s wisdom. Because – in their minds – God’s wisdom is not something that really needs to be believed. No, rather it’s kind of unavoidable. You don’t come to it – it comes to you.

The way that Job’s friends – and Job himself – envision God’s wisdom – is that he works according to the principle of Retribution. Good is rewarded and evil is punished. Pretty much right away in this life. And there really is no room in their thinking for good people being punished or evil people being rewarded.

And yet, that’s what Job is experiencing. He’s a good man – God even said so – he’s righteous – not sinless – but fearing God and turning away from evil.

And yet, he’s being – from the looks of it – punished!

From that point – Job being apparently punished – Job and his three friends take very different paths to explain this seeming contradiction to God’s wisdom – his wise dealings in this world.

Job’s friends say that Job is secretly unrighteous. Because if he is, then it makes sense that he’s being punished.

Job on the other hand knows that he’s not secretly unrighteous – though at times in this book he’s so confused that he’s starting to wonder if maybe he does have some secret sin that God alone knows about – and not even he knows it!

So, that leaves Job with only one other way to interpret this – according to his theology. And that is that God is not wise. He’s not acting according to wisdom. He’s made some sort of a mistake. And maybe God needs Job to set him straight – even.

And yet, this line of thinking is very troubling to Job. And so, that’s why we’ve seen him in this book accuse God in one line and then go back to confessing his trust in him shortly thereafter. Job is suffering not only from physical and emotional trauma – but now he’s also suffering from mental and spiritual confusion as he tries to reconcile his theology to the way that God is actually working in his life.

He doesn’t understand God’s ways. And at the end he will trust God’s wisdom. But he’s not there yet.

And so, we enter Job chapter 16 and witness Job responding to Eliphaz’s second accusatory and inflammatory speech aimed at Job.

Your advice is not helpful

And so, Job begins this chapter by expressing his desire that his friends would know that what they’ve been telling him is not helpful at all – especially what Eliphaz just said in chapter 15.

KJV Job 16:1 Then Job [answered and said/replied],

2 I have heard many [such things/things like these before]:
[What!…] [miserable/sorry] comforters are ye all.

Your words are worthless and endless

Job then tells these men that their words are worthless and seem to go on forever. And this makes him ask in amazement as to what causes them to keep going on speaking the way they are.

3 Shall [vain/windy] words have [an end/no limit]?
or what [emboldeneth/plagues/provokes] thee that thou answerest?

And I think it’s helpful for us to be going through this book chapter by chapter – like we are – so that we too can feel the way that Job feels. So, if you’ve personally felt like these lessons just go on and on, you’re not alone. Job felt the same way.

And as helpful as it could be to follow a particular theme through this book – which is the approach that some good people take – I think you would miss the feeling of drudgery and repetition that the author of this book is expecting you to feel along with the suffering Job.

I could talk just like you

Well, Job himself goes on to tell these friends of his that he could just as easily speak unkind and ignorant words like they’re speaking to him now – if the roles were reversed – and they were suffering and he were the one doing well.

4 I [also/too] could speak [as ye do/like you]:
if [your soul/you] were in my [soul’s stead/place],

Now, how is Job perceiving that these men are speaking to him?

I could [heap up/compose/pile up] words against you,
and shake mine head at you.

And so, that’s what Job could do. He could be just as unsympathetic and cruel to these men if they were suffering and he was doing fine.

But I would be kind to you

But Job goes on to say that he wouldn’t. He could. But he wouldn’t be unkind and cruel to them.

5 But I [would/could] strengthen you with my [mouth/words],
and [the moving/solace/comfort] [of/from] my lips [should/could/would] [asswage your grief/lessen your pain/bring you relief].

And folks, we need to adopt this mindset. How easy it is to cut others down. How natural it comes for us to kick people when they’re hurting. Let’s take a lesson from how Job envisions himself treating someone who is suffering.

Do you know anyone like that in your life? In our assembly? How are you using your words in that man’s life or in that woman’s life? Let’s work with our words to bring relief to those who are in pain.

And so, we’ve seen Job envision a time where he could comfort the suffering one with his words.

My words do me no good

And yet, that makes Job turn his thoughts to the only one whom he knows to be suffering at this point – and that’s himself! And in his case, his words don’t help him at all. And at the same time, withholding his words don’t help him either.

6 [Though/If/But if] I speak, my [grief/pain] is not [asswaged/lessened/relieved]:
and [though/if] I [forbear/hold back/refrain from speaking], [what am I eased/what has left me/how much of it goes away]?

So, Job can speak and he receives no relief. And yet, if he doesn’t speak, the same thing happens. That is, nothing.

Focusing on the giver of his pain

And that makes Job turn his thoughts to the one who is causing this un-relievable pain in his life – God.

7 [But/Surely] now he hath [made me weary/exhausted me/worn me out]:
thou hast [made desolate/laid waste/devastated] [all my company/my entire household].

So, Job can’t get relief because it’s God who is responsible for exhausting him.

And not only is God exhausting Job personally, but he also devastated his entire household – all his company.

Effects on Job’s appearance

And the level of emotional turmoil that Job is experiencing – in addition to Satan’s direct plaguing him physically – all of that is having its effect on Job’s body and his physical appearance.

8 And thou hast [filled me with wrinkles/shriveled me up/seized me], which [is/has become] a witness against me:
and my leanness rising up [in/against] me [beareth witness/testifies] [to my face/against me].

And by the way, what Job is describing doesn’t at all jibe with what Eliphaz was insinuating about Job in the last chapter. Maybe you remember that Eliphaz was comparing Job to the proverbial wicked man and he said that such a man has “collops of fat” on his “flanks.”

But what Job is testifying to here – being lean (in a bad way) – is pretty much the exact opposite of what Eliphaz was accusing Job of.

And it wouldn’t have taken more than a second look at Job’s physical appearance to realize that this was the case.

At any rate, Job is saying that he feels like his gaunt and sickly appearance testifies against him. As if his outer form would indicate to others that his inner self was just as sickly and wretched.

These realities rise up against him as if they were witnesses in a court of law, declaring that Job is really a secret sinner. And therefore he’s being punished in accordance with his secret crimes – that are apparently even unknown to him!

Addressing adversaries in Job’s life

And Job is now going to reveal that he has adversaries that are ready to attack him for his supposed secret sins.

He addresses these adversaries in order in the next few verses and they are as follows:

  1. Eliphaz – who just spoke in the previous chapter
  2. Job’s three friends all together
  3. And finally God

Eliphaz’s words are cruel

And so, Job speaks of Eliphaz’s cruel words that feel to Job like this.

9 He teareth me in his wrath, who [hateth/hunted down/persecuted] me:
he gnasheth upon me with his teeth;
mine [enemy/adversary] [sharpeneth his eyes upon/glares at/locks his eyes on] me.

And I personally think that’s a reference to Eliphaz there in verse 9 – though it could possibly be a reference to God. But he talks about God in a few verses, so I prefer to see this as Eliphaz.

How Job feels about his friends’ words

Next, Job speaks of all three friends together and what their collective words have felt like to Job.

10 They [i.e., plural rather than singular…] have [gaped/opened] [upon/against] me with their mouth;
they have [smitten/slapped/struck] me upon the cheek [reproachfully/with contempt/in scorn];
they [have gathered/have massed/unite] themselves together against me.

So, these friends came to comfort Job and yet, this is what that comfort feels like to Job.

Job speaks of God

And then finally, Job speaks of what he feels God has done to him.

11 God [hath delivered/hands over/abandons] me to [the ungodly/ruffians/evil men],
and [turned me over/tosses me/throws me] into the hands of [the wicked/wicked men].

And of course in the context, the “ungodly” and the “wicked” that Job says God has delivered him over to are these three friends!

So, things are getting pretty heated here. Again, the poetry section of this book is not to be viewed as four philosophers sitting around a table calmly advancing theories that seek to explain the phenomenon of injustice in this world. No – they’re angry, they’re accusing one another, Job’s accusing God himself!

God is violent and cruel

And Job continues to accuse God of treating him with violence and extreme cruelty.

12 I was [at ease/in peace], but he [hath broken me asunder/shattered me]:
he hath also [taken/grasped/seized] me by my neck, and [shaken me to pieces/crushed me],
and set me up [for/as] his [mark/target].

Now, this statement does seem to be Job’s admitting that one thing that Eliphaz said in the last chapter was right. There – when Eliphaz was comparing Job to the typical “wicked man” – he mentioned that the wicked man – like Job – was at ease and then disaster strikes such a man!

And Job is saying that very thing here. He was at ease – at peace – and then all of a sudden God came out of nowhere and – as it were – shattered Job and shook him to pieces and started using him as target practice for his bow and arrows!

God is shooting arrows at Job

And speaking of arrows, Job continues the archery metaphor to describe how he feels that God is treating him.

13 His archers [compass me round about/surround me],
he [cleaveth/splits open/pierces] my [reins asunder/kidneys], [and doth not spare/without mercy/without pity];
he poureth out my gall upon the ground.

14 He [breaketh/breaks through/breaks through against] me [with breach upon breach/time after time],
he [runneth upon/runs at/rushes against] me like a [giant/warrior/gibbor – giant 1x in KJV, mighty 63x, mighty man 68x, etc…].

So, Job feels like God has pierced him with many arrows. And the imagery is very violent and even gory.

Job pictures God’s arrows splitting open his kidneys and thus pouring out his bile on the ground. And, I’m glad that the Bible consists of words and not pictures or I might have to lie down for a while after picturing such a scene – that Job is painting with these words.

And then Job said that God is battling him like a warrior. And the funny thing is that Job is so weak that he surely would prove no match for such a strong opponent as God.

Job has humbled himself

And so, to show God that Job is no threat to him and no match for his strength and his brutal attacks, Job has humbled himself before the Lord.

15 I have sewed sackcloth [upon/over/on] my skin,
and [defiled/thrust/buried] my horn in the dust.

So, sackcloth was usually worn by mourners. But in Job’s case, he is so identified with his mourning that he is speaking as if he actually took a needle and thread and sewed the sackcloth to himself. That’s the extent to which mourning has become a part of who Job is.

And then we have this mention of Job’s defiling his horn in the dust. What is that?

Well, the Hebrew word translated in the KJV as “defiled” means “to thrust in.” It’s the opposite of lifting something up high.

So, that’s good to know. But what is the meaning of “horn?” This thing that Job is thrusting into the dust…

The NET Bible notes say the following of this “horn:”

42 tn There is no English term that captures exactly what “horn” is meant to do. Drawn from the animal world, the image was meant to convey strength and pride and victory.

So, again, this is Job saying that he is showing his humility before God. He’s not rising up and revolting against God. He’s in sackcloth – no, in fact he’s sewing sackcloth to his flesh, as it were. He’s not lifting up his proud horn – so to speak – no, instead he is thrusting it into the dirt.

All this to show that God doesn’t need to keep beating on Job. Job wants to let God know that God can leave him well-enough alone and pass him by for any further discipline.

Physical effects from God’s treatment of Job

And so, Job continues to bring to God’s attention what his pummeling of Job is resulting in for Job physically.

16 My face is [foul/flushed/reddened] [with/from/because of] weeping,
and on my eyelids is [the shadow of death/deep darkness];

So, Job has wept much in the days since God allowed Satan to touch Job’s life. And we recall that God allowed Satan to ruin Job’s life even though Job had done nothing wrong.

But of course, Job’s friends don’t understand that – that Job is not suffering as a punishment for any sin on his part.

I’m innocent!

And yet, that’s just what Job asserts in verse 17 – he’s innocent.

17 [Not for any/Although there is no] [injustice/violence] in mine hands:
[also/and] my prayer is pure.

So, Job is weeping from God’s chastening – but it’s not due to any sin on Job’s part.

And this statement of Job’s is an answer to what so often these friends of his have accused Job of – which is that Job was sinning and was not praying.

But Job says here that he’s suffering – but not for sin. And that he is still praying pure prayers.

Earth, testify to my innocence!

And this realization that the suffering that he’s experiencing is not a result of his sin prompts Job to call on the earth itself to bear witness to that fact – especially if Job were to die as a result of his suffering with no one to testify to the fact that Job is innocent. He wants the earth to testify – if that were possible!

18 O earth, cover not thou my blood,
and let my cry have no [place/resting place/secret place].

So, Job thinks to himself – surely the earth has witnessed my integrity. It could testify to anyone who has a doubt as to my righteousness!

God is my witness

But then, it’s as if Job realizes that ultimately there is one who knows of his innocence even better than the earth itself. And that witness would be God.

19 [Also/Even] now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
and my [record/advocate] is on high.

God knows what my friends don’t

And this witness whom Job hopes could also be his record of the way things really are has knowledge that Job’s friends do not have. And it’s to that intercessor – in spite of the friends – that Job appeals.

20 My [friends/friend] [scorn me/are my scoffers/is my intercessor]:
[but/as] mine eye poureth out tears unto God.

Job needs a mediator with God

And yet – though God is the only one who can truly be in the position to intercede for the righteous Job – even better than the earth itself – yet, Job is reminded that he seems to need someone to mediate between him and this God of his who should also be his advocate.

21 [O that one might/And he] [plead/contends] [for a/on behalf of] man with God,
as a man pleadeth [for/with] his [neighbor/friend]!

I despair of life

And because it seems that God is at once Job’s potential advocate – but also seemingly his enemy at this point in his life – Job returns to despairing of life.

22 When a few years are come,
then I shall go the way [whence I shall not/of no] return.

And so, next time, in chapter 17 we’ll see Job continue to speak of his despair that he will ever survive this trial that God has placed in his life.

Job 15 Commentary

Let’s open our Bibles to Job chapter 15 for this Job 15 commentary. The 15th chapter of the Old Testament book of Job.

To bring us up to speed, for the last few lessons we’ve seen Job speak in response to his friends’ assertions concerning him. That was in chapters 12-14.

And now in Job 15, Eliphaz responds for the second time. He’ll have one more response after this one.

And in Eliphaz’s response to Job, he insults Job, accuses Job of offending the friends and attacking God, and then goes into great detail as to how Job’s life matches that of the typical wicked man.

So, let’s dive in to this chapter and allow it to minister wisdom to us.

Eliphaz insults Job

Eliphaz begins this chapter by letting Job know that he does not at all appreciate what the suffering Job just communicated in chapters 12-14 of this book.

KJV Job 15:1 Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,

2 Should a wise man [utter/answer with] [vain/windy/blustery] knowledge,
and fill his belly with the east wind?

3 [Should/Does] he [reason/argue] with [unprofitable/useless] talk?
or with [speeches/words] wherewith he can do no good? [i.e., the words have no profit or value…]

So, this is how Eliphaz summarizes all that Job has argued over the last three chapters. Job’s defense of his own righteousness – the flaws inherent in Retribution Theology – all that and much more, Eliphaz simply dismisses as windy and unprofitable.

And I think you’d agree with me in thinking that Eliphaz is definitely over-generalizing. It very well is the case that Job made overstatements in chapters 12-14. It’s fairly evident that certain ways that Job is thinking and how he communicated that was not right.

And yet, when it comes down to it – even if Job is wrong, the most tactful way to approach him is not to paint a picture of this man sucking in a tremendous amount of air into his belly and then breathing it out in a most unprofitable manner.

Eliphaz simply lacks wisdom in communicating with one who’s suffering.

Job is slandering God

And I think that probably in Eliphaz’s mind, he’s not lacking wisdom. Actually, he is going head-to-head with a man who is impious and slandering God.

4 [Yea/Indeed/But], thou [castest off/do away with/even break off] [fear/reverence/piety],
and [restrainest/hinder] [prayer/meditation] before God.

In other words, Job is quitting being godly. And the result in his life is apparently a lack of prayer to and meditation before God.

And Eliphaz knows why Job isn’t praying to God like he ought – he’s sinning!

5 For thy mouth [uttereth/is taught by/is inspired by] thine [iniquity/guilt/sin],
and thou choosest the [tongue/language] of the crafty.

And since Job is sinning with his mouth – and has used that mouth to express the ideas that Eliphaz finds to be so impious – Eliphaz maintains that Job stands condemned by his very speech.

6 Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I:
yea, thine own lips testify against thee.

And therefore, Eliphaz doesn’t even need to say anything – since Job has already said everything that needs to be said in order to condemn him as a sinner. And because Job is a sinner, it makes sense in Eliphaz’s mind that Job should be suffering.

So, case closed – according to Eliphaz.

And yet… Eliphaz will continue and stretch this chapter in which he responds to Job out to 35 verses!

So, Eliphaz claims that Job is self-condemned and that there’s no need for further discussion. And yet, he won’t let that stop him from continuing to speak!

Eliphaz insists that he’s wise

And so, the next thing that Eliphaz wants to address is how Job has made Eliphaz and the two other friends look bad.

Remember? In chapters 12-14 Job claimed a few times that these guys really weren’t as wise as they viewed themselves to be.

And it’s pretty apparent from verses 7-9 that Eliphaz took some offense at that notion and is now going to seek to remonstrate Job on that point.

7 Art thou the first man that was born?
or wast thou [made/brought forth] before the hills?

8 Hast thou heard the [secret/secret counsel] of God?
and dost thou [restrain/limit] wisdom to thyself?

9 What knowest thou, that we know not?
what understandest thou, which is not in us?

10 [With us/Among us/On our side] are both the [grayheaded/gray-haired] and [very aged men/the aged],
[much elder/far older] than thy father.

And I’m not sure if Eliphaz is claiming that these three friends are gray-haired ad much older than even Job’s father – or if he’s saying that the wisdom that they’re trying to convey to Job is from men like that.

Either way, Eliphaz is trying to get Job to buy into his wisdom. And that wisdom is once again the idea that sinners – and sinners only – get punished by God in this life. And therefore, because Job is “being punished” by God – he’s a sinner. Case closed. Job just needs to stop sinning and pray to God – and then God will turn and start blessing Job once more.

And yet, if Job does that, Satan wins. If Job confesses to some fake sin in order to get God to start blessing him again, then Satan’s claim that Job worships God for the stuff that God gives him would be proven true. God – further – would be proved to be one who bribes people into worshipping him with stuff. And what kind of God would that be – who’s so inglorious that he needs to bribe his creatures to worship him?

So, Eliphaz’s wisdom is foolishness. Not helpful to Job at all.

And yet, Eliphaz touches on where true wisdom would lie – if only man could get at it somehow. That was in verse 8 where Eliphaz asks Job if he has access to the secret counsel of God.

Because – when it comes down to it – if a person has access to that, he has wisdom. And I just want once more to declare to us that we have God’s counsel in his word. What a treasure we have in the Bible that we neglect to our own detriment.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there are things that are not revealed to us in the Bible. And yet, God blesses us with wisdom beyond what the eye can see or the ear can hear. And he does that in his word.

Let’s be individuals and let’s be a church that is in God’s word regularly. And maybe we’ll end up having fewer Eliphaz-moments in our lives for it.

So, Eliphaz is rather offended that Job is not buying into the wisdom that he and the two other friends are presenting to Job.

Eliphaz’s wisdom is God’s consolation

And Eliphaz goes on to equate his wisdom – that Job needs to start praying and stop sinning – with God’s consolations to him.

11 Are the consolations of God [small/too small/too trivial] [with/for] thee?
[is there/or] [any secret/a gentle] [thing/word] with thee?

So, if Job is rejecting Eliphaz’s unhelpful ideas that he’s being punished by God for secret sins, then Eliphaz is saying here that he’s rejecting God’s consolation. How arrogant!

And we do need to be careful to not be like Eliphaz. When we give advice to others – especially when we don’t have a word from God on the matter – how foolish it would be to treat our human wisdom as if it were on the same level as God’s wisdom. Let’s not do that.

If you have God’s wisdom on a matter give it with confidence and even dogmatism. When that’s lacking, don’t pretend like you have it.

Job is attacking God

So, in Eliphaz’s mind, Job is rejecting God’s wisdom. And because Job is responding to Eliphaz’s annoying and wrong ideas with some level of heat and even anger – Eliphaz now accuses Job of attacking – not Eliphaz’s ideas – but God himself.

12 Why doth thine heart carry thee away?
and [what/why] do thy eyes [wink at/flash],

13 That thou turnest thy [spirit/rage] against God,
and lettest such words [go/escape] out of thy mouth?

So, to reject Eliphaz’s ideas is to reject God’s wisdom. To attack Eliphaz’s ideas as simply wrong is to attack God. This is the level to which Eliphaz has elevated his own manmade wisdom.

And it seems like Eliphaz considers Job’s words in chapters 12-14 as Job’s doing this – of Job’s attacking God. The words that Job had expressed there are now being classified by Eliphaz as amounting to an attack on God.

And is there some element of truth in this thought? I think there actually is – but not for the reasons Eliphaz is saying.

And it all comes back to Retribution Theology – which as I’ve said before – Job and his three friends all adopt – though, Job is adopting it less and less as the book goes on.

But if Retribution is the principle upon which God works in this world, then in Job’s life God is not holding to his end of the bargain.

If God always gives blessings for obedience and punishes disobedience almost immediately in this life – then God is not doing right in Job’s life. God is acting out of keeping with his character. God is… unjust.

And Job has gotten very close to this way of thinking – if he hasn’t actually totally adopting this mindset. And yet, Job knows that God can’t be unjust. But none of this is making sense to Job and he’s willing to admit that as well.

So, yes, I think Eliphaz’s accusation that Job is in some ways attacking God with the words of his mouth is actually somewhat valid – though not for the reason Eliphaz is thinking.

Eliphaz attacks the idea that man can be righteous

Well, if Job is attacking God, then Eliphaz next is going to attack the idea that man can be righteous before God.

14 What is man, that he should be [clean/pure]?
and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?

So, the idea is that man cannot be clean and righteous. And this actually seems to contradict Eliphaz’s own theology. Because if man can’t be righteous, then how can God bless anyone within the parameters of Retribution Theology?

At the very least, Eliphaz is arguing against the idea that man can be sinless before God – which would be a good argument to make, because the Scripture and nature itself teaches us that truth.

And according to Eliphaz, it’s not that man alone finds himself in this position of being totally clean and righteous morally. No – even angels have a hard time measuring up to God’s standards.

15 Behold, he putteth no trust in his [saints/holy ones];
[yea/and/if even], the heavens are not [clean/pure] in his sight.

16 How much more [abominable/detestable] and [filthy/corrupt] is man,
which [drinketh/drinks in] [iniquity/evil] like water?

So, the argument made is one from greater to lesser.

If God doesn’t trust these greater beings of his – these “saints” or simply “holy ones” which is likely a reference to heavenly beings…

And Eliphaz doesn’t stop with claiming that heavenly beings are in some way unclean in God’s eyes – even the place they inhabit – “the heavens” aren’t clean either in God’s estimation…

Well, if these things aren’t the case with God’s greater creation, then how much less would they be the case for God’s lesser creation – mankind.

And Eliphaz points to some very unflattering realities in mankind that would make this the case. We are abominable and filthy as a race. We drink in sin like it’s water. These things are unfortunately true.

But to use this as part of an argument for why Job is suffering just doesn’t seem to work.

What Eliphaz just explained might help Job understand why he’s suffering – because he’s filthy morally – just like all mankind. I mean, it’s not true – Job is not suffering for his sin. But we’ll just pretend that’s the case – that Job is suffering for his sin.

And yet, if all mankind is filthy, then shouldn’t Retribution Theology really just be one-sided? Shouldn’t there be no blessings at all in this life since all are filthy? And yet, it’s evident that God does choose to bless some of mankind – this mankind which is universally filthy.

So, I think Eliphaz offers a solid argument here… that basically undermines his position. I wonder if he caught that.

Eliphaz prepares Job for more “wisdom”

Well, it doesn’t seem like he caught the contradiction to his theology that he just presented. Because in verses 17-19, Eliphaz is going to very poetically try to prepare Job for some more of his wonderful wisdom.

17 I will [shew/tell/explain to] thee, [hear/listen to] me;
and that which I have seen I will declare;

And yet, Eliphaz doesn’t want to leave himself open to Job’s accusations that Eliphaz is nothing special and that neither is his wisdom. And so, Eliphaz puts some more authority behind the statements that are to follow. That is, he’s communicating the wisdom of the ancients.

18 [Which/what] wise men have told from [their fathers/the traditions of their anscestors],
and have not hid it:

19 Unto whom alone the [earth/land] was given,
and no [stranger/alien/foreigner] passed among them.

And that last verse is very strange. It almost seems like Eliphaz is applying nativism and patriotism to the realm of wisdom. As if – assuming that these characters are living in ancient Edom – the purest form of wisdom to be found would have come from a time in which there were only pure-bred Edomites living in the land. Not these crazy foreigners whose ideas are corrupt – or at least not as wise as what our original ancestors thought and taught.

And I think for us Americans who really do deeply appreciate the wisdom of the founding fathers of America – I think it’s important to not fall into this line of thinking that Eliphaz is promoting. America’s founding fathers – as wise as they were – were not inspired. Where their wisdom agreed with God’s wisdom, rejoice and use it. Where it deviates, abandon it.

Ancient wisdom

Well – back to Eliphaz – here comes the ancient wisdom for the suffering Job!

And what it comes down to is Eliphaz telling Job how wicked men suffer. He speaks of the individual wicked man in verses 20-33. And then he speaks of them as a group in verses 34 and 35 to end this chapter and Eliphaz’s thoughts.

The wicked man is in physical pain

To start, the wicked man experiences constant physical pain. And – hey! – Job experiences constant physical pain, too!

20 The wicked man [travaileth with/writhes in/suffers] [pain/torment] all his days,
and [he travails all…] the number of years [is hidden to/stored up for/that are hidden away for] the [oppressor/ruthless/tyrant].

The wicked man is alarmed by the destroyer

In addition, the wicked man is suddenly alarmed by the noise of people coming to destroy their goods. And hey! Job experienced this too!

21 A [dreadful/terrifying] sound [is in/fills] his ears:
[in prosperity/while at peace/in a time of peace] [the destroyer/marauders] [shall come upon/attack] him.

And this did happen to Job in the first few chapters of this book. All was peace and blessing. And then – whammo! – the raiding bands of men came and took all his stuff. And then his kids all died. Out of nowhere. Sounds like more than a coincidence to Eliphaz!

The wicked man is pessimistic of escape

And not only this, but the wicked man is pessimistic about his chance to escape God’s treatment of him. And – once more – this description fits the bill when it comes to Job.

22 He [believeth/expects] not that he shall [return/escape] [out of/from] darkness,
and he is [waited for of/destined for/marked for] the sword.

And the sword hasn’t come to Job’s body physically. But that’s because God gave the parameters for Satan in the first few chapters of this book. He said Satan could touch him, but needed to save his life. Otherwise, I’m guessing the sword would have gotten Job a while ago.

The wicked man goes hungry

Next, the wicked man looks for bread. And with all of Job’s servants and livestock gone, he probably wasn’t eating very well at this point.

23 He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it?
he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.

The wicked man is full of trouble

Further, the wicked man is full of trouble and anguish. Again, in Eliphaz’s mind there is a really uncanny resemblance between Job and the wicked man as described by the ancients…

24 [Trouble/Distress] and anguish [shall make him afraid/terrify him];
they [shall prevail against/overpower] him, as a king ready to [i.e., launch…] [the battle/an attack].

The wicked man attacks God

But why all of this ill treatment from God for the wicked man?

Well, it’s because this man attacks God – which Eliphaz has accused Job of doing in this very chapter.

25 For he stretcheth out his hand against God,
and [strengtheneth/conducts arrogantly/vaunts] himself against the Almighty.

The wicked man battles God

And it’s as if the wicked man is in a literal battle against God.

26 He runneth upon [him/God], [even on his neck/headlong],
[upon/with] the thick bosses [i.e., convex surface…] of his [bucklers/shield]:

The wicked man is a fat glutton

What’s more, this wicked man is a fat glutton – according to Eliphaz.

27 Because he covereth his face with his fatness,
and maketh [collops of/heavy with/bulge with] fat on his [flanks/thighs/hips].

And I’m not quite sure if Eliphaz is thinking that Job was a fat glutton or not. Most likely, he did think that of Job.

The wicked man lives outside of society

And as a result of his general odiousness, the wicked man lives far from society. And you know where Job was living right? In the city dump – as it were! Away from society.

28 And he dwelleth in desolate cities,
and in houses which no man inhabiteth,
which are [ready/destined] to [become/crumble into] [heaps/ruins].

The wicked man’s wealth flies

In addition, the wicked man’s wealth will fly from him. And this once more was the case with Job.

29 He shall not [be/become/grow] rich,
neither shall his [substance/wealth] [continue/endure],
neither shall he [prolong/spread] [the perfection thereof/his possessions] upon the earth.

The wicked man will be destroyed

And ultimately, God will wither and destroy the wicked man. And is that not what God has been doing to Job?

30 He shall not [depart/escape] [out of/from] darkness;
the flame shall [dry up/wither] his [branches/shoots],
and by the breath of [his/God’s] mouth shall he [go away/depart].

The wicked man is admonished

And therefore, Eliphaz has an admonition for the wicked man. And look! There’s one such man – in Eliphaz’s mind – sitting right in front of him!

31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: [i.e., he’s deceived by trusting vanity…]
for [vanity/emptiness/worthlessness] shall be his [recompence/reward].

The wicked man is paid in this life

And this payback will certainly happen in this life – as it has been with Job.

32 [It shall be accomplished/He will be paid in full] before his time,
and his branch shall not [be green/flourish].

The wicked man lacks fruit

And when the payback from God does come – the retribution arrives – then what the wicked man has worked for will not come to fruition.

33 He shall [shake off/drop off/let fall] his [unripe/sour] grape [as the/like a] vine,
and shall [cast off/shed] his [flower/blossoms] [as the/like an] olive [i.e., tree…].

And in both of those similes, the idea is premature de-fruition. Unripe grapes eventually turn into ripe ones. Olive blossoms usually eventually turn into olives.

But when those things fall off before they come to fruition, there’s fruitlessness. And that’s what Eliphaz is seeing in Job’s life. Lack of fruit. Things are looking bad. And Eliphaz knows why. Job is a wicked man.

The wicked congregation

And Eliphaz finishes his pretty pointed accusations of Job by speaking not only of the singular wicked man – but now he expands out to a whole congregation of wicked men.

This group will be desolate.

34 For the [congregation/company] of [hypocrites/the godless] shall be [desolate/barren],
and fire shall consume the [tabernacles/tents] of [bribery/the corrupt/those who accept bribes].

And that last phrase makes us think that Eliphaz is suspecting Job of taking bribes. Perhaps that’s the sin that God is fingering in Job. Job was supposed to judge and bring right verdicts as a patriarch of that time. But instead, Job took bribes and forgot about real justice!

And lastly, Eliphaz compares what happens to the entire group of wicked men on the earth to the process of pregnancy and birth.

35 They conceive [mischief/trouble],
and bring forth [vanity/evil],
and their belly prepareth [deceit/deception].

What a way to end this long chapter that’s pregnant with accusations against Job!

In short, Eliphaz has rebuked Job for questioning God – and particularly the way that Retribution Theology portrays him. Eliphaz rebuked Job for offending him and the other friends for their lack of wisdom. And finally, we’ve seen Eliphaz draw the most obvious parallels between Job and the typical wicked man.

So, we’ll see how Job responds next time. But I’ll give you a hint. You can see if you look down a line or so this phrase from Job in verse 2… “miserable comforters are ye all.” That’s Job’s assessment of this chapter that we’ve just covered. We’ll see what else he says next time.

Job 14 Meaning

Let’s open our Bibles to the Old Testament book of Job, and chapter 14. Job 14 meaning.

I trust that we’re not growing weary of this study. I’ve personally been enjoying going beyond the typical treatment of the first and last few chapters of the book and really digging in to the middle section of poetry.

It might not preach very well – but I think it’s really helpful to understand what’s being communicated in these chapters. Because it’s all profitable.

And so, let’s gird up the loins of our mind and begin our journey through the 14th chapter of this wonderful book that will impart wisdom to us if we let it.

Job focuses on man’s impermanence

Now, Job begins this chapter speaking of man’s impermanence – the fact that our lives are so short.

KJV Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman [is of/lives only a] few days,
and full of [trouble/turmoil].

2 He [cometh forth/grows up] like a flower,
and [is cut down/withers away]:

he fleeth also as a shadow,
and [continueth/remains] not.

And so, not only is man not permanent – but his life is also filled with trouble. And Job was certainly experiencing both of these realities.

And notice the metaphors that Job uses to portray the brevity of mankind’s lifespan.

Job speaks of a flower. And it’s the kind of flower that springs up quickly. And then – whether it’s cut down or it just withers – it’s gone just as quickly as it appeared.

And then, Job speaks of life being like a shadow – something so temporary. Once the light changes its angle or when the object casting the shadow moves – it’s gone. No more shadow. Just like that.

And Job is saying that life for humans is like this. Temporary. And troubled. Especially for Job himself.

Job wonders why God is being so harsh to the impermanent Job

And so, in light of the fact that man’s lifetime – and especially Job’s own life – is so temporary and troubled – Job wonders why the God of the universe would be so harsh toward him.

3 And dost thou [open/fix] thine eyes upon such an one,
and bringest me into judgment [with/before] thee?

So, Job pictures God as locking-in on Job with his eyes. Of just staring intensely at Job – to Job’s own detriment.

And that’s because Job is also picturing God as ushering Job into court to convict him of crimes.

But – Job’s point is – why all this fuss about a creature whose life is so short and full of turmoil?

As if God doesn’t have bigger concerns than troubling the already-troubled Job.

And once more we need to remind ourselves that Job is convinced that God is acting this way toward him – not because Job has special revelation from God that this is the case – but because this is how things appear to Job’s naked eye, as it were.

Because – in Job’s mind and in the minds of his three friends – and maybe even to Elihu later on – bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. That’s what we’ve been calling Retribution Theology.

So, if something bad is happening in your life, it’s because you’re bad – says Job and the cast of characters in this book. But Job knows that he’s not bad. Even God can vouch that he is a righteous man. Not sinless. But righteous.

And therefore, if something bad is happening to someone good, then God is certainly doing it.

But, that’s not how Job thinks God ought to act. It’s out-of-character with the being that Job has worshipped and served for so many years.

And all of this is utterly confusing to Job.

And so, when your life is hard – does it mean that God is punishing you for sin?

It could mean just that! And yet, there might also be some other explanation – like a heavenly wager between God and Satan.

And if life is going well – does that mean that God is really pleased with you?

It could mean that! But it might just be that the God who sends his rain on the just and the unjust is happening to want to favor you that day.

So, we do need help – just like Job – to stop interpreting how God is feeling and what God is thinking about us based on circumstances in our lives.

So, how do we know what God thinks about us? Open your Bible and read it. He tells you there. He tells you that if you’re trusting Christ that you are accepted in the Beloved One. That he loves you. That nothing can separate you from that love.

He also tells you that he chastens those whom he loves. He tells you that all who will live godly will suffer persecution. He gives you examples of godly people who suffer.

So, let’s base our thinking on God’s Word rather than on our feelings and circumstances.

And there’s only one way to know what his Word says. And that’s by reading it. Let’s as individuals be in his Word regularly.

God apparently considers Job irreversibly unclean

Now, as we’ve seen before, Job is starting to wonder if perhaps he has sinned and only God remembers it. Maybe Job really is one of those bad people who – alone – should have bad things happen to them.

And it seems to Job that God is considering him beyond being able to be cleansed of his sin. Maybe he’s uncleanable. And if that’s the case, then Job is hopeless, because…

4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
not one.

And this question reminds us of what the Lord says in the Old Testament book of Haggai when he asks the priests if when they touch bread with holy meat if the bread becomes holy.

You’ve got bread over here. You’ve got meat that’s been consecrated to God over here. And the question is whether the meat will consecrate the bread if the two touch.

And the answer is “no.” Holy meat will not make normal bread holy. You can’t consecrate bread by putting consecrated meat on it. All you do is make a sandwich.

But the opposite is certainly the case. If someone who was ceremonially unclean according to the Mosaic Law touched anything else, that other thing would become unclean.

So, here, Job says something similar. It’s not possible to bring something clean out of something unclean. No one can do it. It’s an impossibility.

And since that’s what Job thinks God is considering him to be – as unclean – he’s feeling hopeless that this can ever change. And thus, the way that God is dealing with Job will never change – in his mind, at least.

Why trouble an already-short life?

And so, Job continues with this theme of questioning God as to why he’s so harsh with him.

And Job’s next argument goes like this: God has determined the length of everyone’s life. He knows how long each man will live. And so – in light of that – Job basically says, “Then please just let me live until this short life you gave me is over!

5 Seeing [his/man’s] days are determined,
the number of his months are [with thee/under your control],

thou hast appointed his [bounds/limits] [i.e., of years…]
[so…] that he cannot pass;

6 [Turn/Look away] from him, that he may rest,
till he shall [accomplish/fulfill], as an hireling, his day.

So, God determines our days – how long we live. That’s all in God’s hands.

And that time is ultimately so short. So short – in fact – that Job urges God to basically just leave suffering mankind alone until their short life – over which God has complete control – is finished.

Hope for a tree

Now, Job continues and he states that there is hope for a dead tree.

And we’ll see where he’s going with this assertion in just a little while. But let’s follow what he says for now.

7 For there is hope [of/for] a tree,
if it be cut down,

Here’s the hope…

that it will sprout again,
and that [the tender branch thereof/its new shoots] will not [cease/fail].

And that’s the case even when it seems like there’s practically no life left in a dead old tree.

8 Though [the root thereof/its roots] [wax/grow] old in the [earth/ground],
and [the stock thereof/its stump] [begins to…] die in the [ground/soil];

But if you introduce one key ingredient to the picture, it will come back to life!

9 Yet [through/at] the scent of water it will [bud/flourish],
and [bring/put] forth [boughs/sprigs/shoots] like a [new…] plant.

And this is a really interesting natural phenomenon. Trees find a way to come back to life. Even the ugliest old trees that look as dead as dead can be so often spring back to life. It seems like all they need is water and they’re finding ways to sprout and grow and venture into new areas.

No hope for man

But – and this is where Job is going with the tree discussion – in contrast to the dead tree – a man who dies has no hope of coming back to life in his same old body. The old tree just comes back to life with its same form – but it doesn’t work that way for man.

10 But man dieth, and [wasteth away/lies prostrate/is powerless]:
yea, man [giveth up the ghost/expires], and where is he?

And really, if all you have to go on in this life is what the eye can see, then that last question that Job asks is where you’re left. When your loved one’s body ceases to function, where is he? Because that thing lying in the casket is not him! Where is he?

And once again, we’re not quite sure what Job would have known about the afterlife. And yet, I don’t think that this is Job denying the existence of heaven or hell. I think it’s him once more looking at things from the external human-only perspective.

And to our physical senses, when a man’s body expires, he never comes back in that same exact body, unchanged. It doesn’t happen. The resurrection body is not the same sin-cursed body that you die in. It’s glorious and new.

Man is like an evaporating sea

So, instead of being like a dead tree – which has some hope of new life springing back into what appears to be dead – man is more like a body of water whose content is evaporating.

11 As the waters [fail/evaporate/disappear] from the sea,
and [the flood/a river] [decayeth/becomes parched/drains away] and drieth up:

12 So man lieth down,
and riseth not:

till the heavens be no more,

they shall not awake,
nor be raised out of their sleep.

And Job probably wasn’t thinking of what we know as the Dead Sea. But to me, that body of water would be the best illustration of what he’s saying here.

The Dead Sea – especially in our day – is evaporating. That body of water in Israel is fed from the north by the Jordan River. But the problem for this sea is threefold.

First, irrigation siphons off so much of the water that would normally come from the Jordan River.

Second, the sea has no outlet and is basically beaten by the hot desert sun all day long – which leads to a lot of evaporation.

Third, these days there are cosmetic companies that own parts of the Dead Sea and they harvest the mineral-filled water in that sea to make their products and ship them all over the world.

And so, this is why – if you were to look at the Dead Sea in some modern map program online you would see – especially toward the south end of it – what seems to be a lack of water in some places.

And this – according to Job – is how man’s life works. We just all dry up. We lie down and don’t rise again.

That is, until the heavens be no more.

And Job is almost right about that. The bodies of the wicked dead will be raised right before the new heaven and the new earth are presented.

And yet – Job is missing the special revelation that we have that declares that God’s people will be raised and enjoy Christ’s Millennial reign on this old earth.

But Job is likely not aware of these realities. He’s not even aware at this point that God operates outside of the confines of the Retribution principle of always punishing evil immediately and always rewarding good immediately. He and his friends will need to have God come to them and let them in on this fact in order for them to understand it.

Job wants to die – temporarily

And so, moving on, it seems that this thought of dying makes Job wish for a middle ground. He’d like to be protected from God’s supposed punishment – maybe in a grave – but at the same time he’d like to be able to come out of that grave once God’s anger was done with him.

13 O that thou wouldest hide me in [the grave/Sheol],
that thou wouldest [keep me secret/conceal me], until thy wrath be past,
that thou wouldest [appoint/set] me a set time, and remember me! [i.e., to take him out of his temporary grave and be merciful to him again…]

So, this is what Job has come to – wishing that he could temporarily die – and doing so because he’s thinking that this will somehow allow him to bypass God’s anger – which in his mind is demonstrated by the fact that Job is suffering. Because, once more – to Job and his friends – if suffering is happening, God is causing it – and he’s causing it because he’s angry.

So, Job is resorting to fantasy in the form of toying with this idea of being temporarily dead.

Job realizes that’s impossible

But then Job realizes that temporarily dying is – of course – impossible. And so, he resigns himself to suffer until something – anything – changes in his life.

14 If a man die,
shall he live again? [i.e., what am I thinking?…]

And, that’s just Job’s acknowledging that temporary death is not an option for him.

all the days of my [appointed time/struggle/hard service] will I wait,
till my [change/release] come.

So, Job is resolving to “tough it out” until something happens to relieve his pain and anguish – if that ever happens.

Change is coming

And even though Job might not know when this change might ever take place, Job really does look forward to a time when things will indeed change between him and God. A time when God will stop punishing him and instead call for him and desire him once more.

At that point…

15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee:
thou wilt [have a desire to/long for] the [work of thine hands/creature you have made].

And this is what life was like for Job before the heavenly wager between God and Satan. God called and Job answered. God desired his creature, Job.

Comparing now to then

But for now, Job goes back to thinking about this change that he anticipates happening sometime.

And in Job’s mind, when this change does come, it will be so much different from how God is treating him now. And so, he goes on to compare his current miserable state with the future mercy that he’s sure that he’ll experience some day.

16 [For/Surely] now thou [numberest/count] my steps: [i.e., God is watching his every move and scrutinizing him…]
[dost thou/then you would] not [watch over/observe/mark] my sin?

So, right now Job pictures God as counting his very steps. But at that future time when God is merciful once more to Job, Job imagines that God won’t observe or mark his sin.

Covered sin

And in that future time when Job’s change finally comes – when God calls and desires him – and when God will no longer mark this supposed sin in his life that’s causing God to chasten him – at that time God will seal up and sew up Job’s iniquity so that it would not present any more problems for Job.

17 My transgression [is/would be (in this future time)] sealed up in a bag,
and thou [sewest up/wrap up/would cover over] mine iniquity.

So, Job pictures God’s future mercy to him in the form of taking all of Job’s sin – as if it were some literal garbage that needs to be put in a bag – and stuffing it all into that bag – and then actually sewing it up or covering it for good.

And so, this is Job’s hope – a time when God changes his approach to Job. A time when Job and God are back on friendly terms.

God destroys man’s hope

And yet – starting in verse 18 – it seems that Job is wrenched back to his current reality.

He can hope all he wants for things to change – but ultimately Job has very little confidence that a time like he’s described – with God pitying him – will ever happen.

In fact, the way that God destroys the hope of a man like Job is like mountains falling or rocks being moved out of their place.

18 [And surely/But] the mountain [falling/falls and] [cometh to nought/crumbles away],
and the rock [is removed/moves/will be removed] out of his place.

And the way that God destroys man’s hope is like water wearing away stones or floods washing away the soil and what grows out of it.

19 [As…] The waters [wear/wear away] the stones:
[thou/torrents] washest away the [things which grow out of the dust of the earth/dust of the earth/soil];

And here’s what Job has been preparing us for in verses 18 and 19 – like mountains falling and rocks being removed and waters wearing away stones and washing the soil away…

[and/so] thou destroyest [the hope of man/man’s hope].

So, mountains, rocks, and stones are all strong and practically permanent – which is exactly how a man can view what he’s hoping in. It’s strong, permanent, unmovable.

And in Job’s case and in the context of what he’s just said, Job’s hope – his expectation – is probably that God will turn from his anger and start being merciful to the suffering Job.

And yet, Job is admitting here that what he’s hoping for – his strong permanent desire for the future – well, God is destroying that right before his very eyes.

And this dashing of his hope feels to Job like a mountain falling apart – or a rock being violently moved – or a stone being worn away from friction.

Job thinks God will kill him before showing mercy

And so, when it comes down to it, Job is going to rather pessimistically guess that God will kill him before he can experience this change in God’s attitude and approach toward him.

20 Thou [prevailest for ever against him/forever overpower him/overpower him once for all],
and he [passeth/departs]:

thou changest his [countenance/appearance], [i.e., not his circumstance…]
and sendest him away.

And Job sees himself as a likely candidate for this kind of treatment from God. In other words, death.

Dead men don’t know how their kids are doing

And when such a fate befalls a man and his children keep on living – situations in their lives might be wonderful or they might be horrible. But either way – that man isn’t going to know anything about it.

21 His sons [come to honour/achieve honor/are honored],
[and/but] he knoweth it not;

[and/or/if] they [are brought low/become insignificant],
but he [perceiveth/sees] it not of them.

And of course, in Job’s situation these roles are reversed. It’s his kids – not him – that are dead. His ten children don’t know what is happening to their suffering father. He’s being brought low and coming to dishonor in the estimation of his friends – but they don’t know anything about it.

Pain before death

And then it seems like Job steps back in time with this hypothetical man he’s discussing – who eventually dies and who knows nothing of his children’s successes or failures. This man – before he dies, like Job thinks is going to happen to him – meets his death through a very painful way.

22 But his [flesh upon him/body] shall have pain,
and [his soul/he] [within/for] [him/himself] shall mourn.

And this description fits Job’s situation very well.

He focuses on the external physical suffering he’s experiencing and the internal emotional turmoil he’s well-acquainted with…

And that’s the end of three chapters of Job lamenting the fact that neither his friends nor the God he’s served his whole life are being gracious and helpful to him.

And these three chapters will trigger a second cycle of conversations with his three friends that we’ll start studying next time.

Job 13 Commentary

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Job chapter 13 (for our Job 13 commentary).

Review of Job 1-12

As we enter this 13th chapter of Job, let’s briefly review what we’ve seen in this book.

We’ve had the first two chapters declaring that Job is righteous and that he’s suffering as a result of Satan challenging God about both Job’s character and the character of God. So, a lot is at stake.

Then, Job’s three friends came to comfort the suffering Job. And instead of comforting, they’ve been aggravating Job. Why? Because they keep telling Job to start praying to God and to stop sinning.

The problem is that Job is not suffering because of his sin. He’s suffering for reasons unknown to him. God’s ways in his life – therefore – make no sense to him.

But his friends are trying to help him understand God’s ways. And they believe that God’s ways go like this – do good and be blessed, do evil and be punished – always, and usually immediately.

And the thing is that Job would usually believe that, too. Only now all of a sudden he finds himself in the position of serving as the exception to that rule. He seems to be being punished. Which would usually mean that a man is unrighteous. But the problem is that Job is not unrighteous.

And so, all of a sudden, Job is having to come to terms with a God who is not acting like Job thinks he should act. And it’s a jarring experience for him.

And these friends should be helping him – but instead they’re making matters worse for him.

And so, we’ve seen Eliphaz speak and give his opinions and tell Job to stop sinning. And we’ve had Job respond, telling him that’s not why he’s suffering.

Then Bildad took his turn trying to explain to Job that he’s suffering because of his sin. And Job responded, denying that that’s why he’s suffering.

And last, we had Zophar speak and tell Job to stop sinning and to start praying. And Job is now in the middle of three chapters (starting in chapter 12) where he responds to this last friend – and really, to all three of these men.

And so, that’s how we enter into chapter 13 today.

The friends aren’t wiser than Job

And Job starts by reasserting something he’s said already in chapter 12. Job claims that his friends’ knowledge doesn’t surpass his at all.

KJV Job 13:1 Lo, mine eye hath seen all this,
mine ear hath heard and understood it.

2 What ye know, the same do I know also:
I am not inferior unto you.

And this has been the impression these friends have left Job with – that they’re superior to him in wisdom and understanding. But Job here is flatly denying that.

And we do need to be careful – as we counsel others and try to explain God’s ways to them – that we don’t come across as know-it-alls. Especially when the knowledge we’re trying to convey is really more just personal opinion based on something other than Scripture.

Job wants to speak to God

Now, because speaking with these so-called friends of his has been so unhelpful, he wants to take his matter straight to God.

3 [Surely/But] I [would/wish to] speak to the Almighty,
and I desire to [reason/argue/argue my case] with God.

And perhaps, Job is partly conceding here to the demands of his friends. He says, “Sure I’ll pray to God – like you guys think I’ve never done before in my life! But when I pray it’s going to be for the purpose of reasoning my case before him! Because he’s not acting in the way that either you three or I expect.

Job’s friends are worthless

And the reason that Job wants to bypass these friends of his and take his matter straight to God is due to the fact that while God is the only one who can help him – his friends are – in Job’s increasingly belligerent words – worthless.

4 But ye [are forgers of/smear with/are inventors of] lies,
ye are all physicians [of no value/worthless].

Some of us know what it’s like to visit a doctor’s office and perceive that there’s something very wrong with us – only to have the doctor proclaim a clean bill of health.

Others of us have had the opposite experience. I went to the doctor when I was in high school for a slight pain I had once in one of my knees. And the doctor immediately ordered a very expensive exploratory procedure that revealed nothing.

When I came back for a follow-up I apparently met with the doctor’s supervisor, who told me the procedure was unnecessary and seemed baffled as to why I’d even have had it done. When I explained that “Doctor so-and-so told me I needed to have it done” the doctor shot back to me – he’s not even a doctor!

I somehow on a subsequent visit managed to be placed with that guy – whatever he was since he apparently was not a doctor – and I had some sinus problems that could be remedied by using some decongestants. Well, this man almost immediately recommended surgery!

And so, by that point, my parents and I caught on to the fact that this guy was something like what Job is accusing his friends of – being worthless physicians.

For me, this man’s remedy was always something more extreme and expensive and dangerous than was really needed. And he seemed to be the only one who didn’t see that.

For Job, his friends keep prescribing him prayer and the ceasing of committing sin – things that will not at all help a man who already prays and is not being punished due to his sin.

Job wants his friends to be quiet

And therefore, Job advises these men to just stop talking.

5 O that ye would [altogether hold your peace/keep completely silent]!
and it [should be/would become] your wisdom.

So, these men think they’re so wise and we’ve seen that demonstrated through this first cycle of speeches. But Job is telling them that if they really want to be wise, they’ll be quiet and stop communicating lies on God’s behalf.

Job wants his friends to listen to him

And, so, instead of talking, Job now demands that these men start listening to him.

6 Hear now my [reasoning/argument],
and hearken to the [pleadings/contention] of my lips.

And yet, Job is not going to immediately give these men his reasoning and pleadings.

Why are these friends not listening to Job?

Instead, Job communicates that he feels like there’s a hidden reason behind why these men are not listening to him and instead they’re speaking lies about him. Job thinks that they are showing partiality and are secretly against him.

7 Will ye speak [wickedly/what is unjust] [for/on the behalf of] God?
and talk deceitfully for him?

8 Will ye [accept his person/show partiality for (or to) him]?
will ye [contend/argue the case] for God?

9 [Is it good that/Will it be well when/Would it turn out well if] he [should search you out/examines you]?
or as one man [mocketh/deceives] another, [do/will/would] ye so [mock/deceive] him?

And so, Job just challenged these friends that what they’re saying on God’s behalf is not right – they’re showing partiality against the innocent Job.

And when God gets wind of this fact, it’s not going to go well for these men.

And actually, we see that very reality happen to them at the end of this book. Things don’t go well for them because they did not speak what was right about God like Job did – and that’s according to God himself.

God will deal with these friends

And Job continues to lay out before these men the consequences of speaking wrongly on behalf of God – as if they understood perfectly God’s ways.

10 He will [surely/certainly] [reprove/rebuke] you,
if ye do secretly [accept persons/show partiality].

11 Shall not his [excellency/majesty/splendor] [make you afraid/terrify you]?
and [his dread/the fear he inspires] fall upon you?

Job insults his friends’ sayings

Then Job turns from warning them about God being displeased with the wrong things these friends are telling Job – to now just berating their canned wisdom that each one of them one-by-one has been rehashing and trying to make apply to Job’s situation.

12 Your [remembrances/memorable sayings/maxims] are [like unto/proverbs of] ashes,
your [bodies to bodies/defenses are defenses] of clay.

And of course, the problem with the counsel of these men – that good is always rewarded and evil always punished in this life – is that they are so stuck in that way of thinking that they are obliged to accuse Job of secret sin in order to make their man-made theology work.

Job again urges silence

And that doesn’t help Job. And so, Job again admonishes them to stop talking lies to him.

13 [Hold your peace, let me alone/Be silent before me/Refrain from talking with me], [so…] that I may speak,
[and/then] let come on me what will.

And I think what Job means is that – even if he’s wrong – his friends should still just be quiet and let God personally deal with him.

Job considers if he were wrong

And then Job considers what would happen if he is somehow wrong and God really is punishing him and will deal with him severely.

14 [Wherefore/Why] do I [take my flesh in my teeth/put myself in peril],
and [put/take] my life in mine hand[s]?

So, Job told him to leave him alone and let come on him what will from God. Let God be the one who deals out justice – not these three friends in their mistaken view of God and Job and the world.

But Job realizes that this is not a light statement. He fully realizes the truth that’s stated in Hebrews – that it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hand of the living God.

To deliver himself from the judgement of his friends into the judgement of God is no minor thing. It’s like taking his flesh in his teeth or taking his own life in his hands.

Because Job knows that God knows everything and that he’s ultimately right. You can’t fool this judge.

Job will trust God

But then Job reminds himself that this is the best place for him to be – in God’s hands. Job confesses to being fully in God’s control – and so he will trust him.

15 [Though/Even if] he slay me, yet will I [trust/hope] in him:
[but/nevertheless] I will [maintain mine own/argue my/surely defend my] ways [before him/to his face].

So, Job will trust. But at the same time he doesn’t feel the ability to just rest. He will trust and he will – simultaneously – argue his case before God.

Job trusts – but he’s still willing to defend himself against the God whom he thinks is mistreating him and perhaps doesn’t have all the facts.

A sign of Job’s innocence

And Job says that this is a sign – the fact that he’s willing to approach God and plead his case with the Almighty – that’s a sign that he is innocent.

Because wicked people don’t approach God sincerely.

16 [He/This] [also/moreover] shall be my [salvation/deliverance]: [why?…]
for [an hypocrite/a godless man] [shall/may/would] not come before [him/his presence].

Job again demands his friends to be quiet

In light of these realities, Job once more demands that his friends listen and withhold their speaking.

17 [Hear diligently/Listen carefully to] my [speech/words],
and [hear…] my [declaration/explanation] with your ears.

And I think we’re justified in reading between the lines a little bit here. What do I mean by that?

Well, why does Job keep telling his friends to stop speaking and to rather listen to him? I think this is at least the second time he’s urged them to be quiet – maybe the third.

One possibility is that they’re actually trying to break in while he’s speaking! And so Job is practically having to beat them back because he wants to keep talking.

Job would be vindicated before God

Now, Job is going to tell these friends that he is certain that if he were able to address God directly that he would be vindicated – he’s hiding no secret sin that would earn him God’s punishment in his life.

18 [Behold/See] now, I have [ordered/prepared] my [cause/case];
I know that I [shall be justified/will be vindicated/am right].

19 Who [is he that will plead/will contend] with me? [he shouldn’t ask this – he’s got three men right there who will do just this – and if they do…]
for [now/then/if anyone can], [if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost/I would be silent and die].

So, Job is absolutely sure that if he only had an audience with God, he would be proven innocent.

Job addresses God

And so, at this point, Job lifts his eyes from his friends – whose counsel is so useless to him and whose power is so limited to help him in any way – and Job lifts his eyes and directly address God.

20 Only do not two things unto me: [O God…]
then will I not hide myself from thee.

And here are those two things that Job wants God to not do to him so that he doesn’t have to hide himself from God.

21 [First…] [Withdraw/Remove] thine hand far from me:
and [Second…] [let not thy dread make me afraid/stop making me afraid with your terror].

And if God does that for Job, Job is more than willing to commune with God like he used to.

22 Then call thou, and I will answer:
or let me speak, and [answer thou/reply to/respond to] me.

Maybe Job has sinned…

But since God is not in the practice of calling and answering Job anymore, Job starts considering whether perhaps he really has grievous sins in his life that Job doesn’t know about – but God does. What else would explain God’s absolute silence in the midst of sending such terrible suffering into the life of a man who is so apparently righteous?

23 How many are mine iniquities and sins?
make me to know my [transgression/rebellion] and my sin.

Why does God hide?

But then Job transitions from asking God about what may be hiding in Job’s own heart – and instead he starts asking God about God’s reasons for hiding himself from Job in the hour of his greatest need yet in his long life.

24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face,
and [holdest me for/consider me/regard me as] thine enemy?

Because when bad things happen – they’re happening surely because God is angry. When the sun doesn’t shine, it’s because God is displeased. This is how our natural minds tend to think – especially apart from God’s special revelation.

Job is not worth God’s pursuit

But Job wants God to know this – that God’s constant punishing of Job is as significant a pursuit for God as would be the crushing of a windblown leaf or the chasing of dry chaff. Which is to say, this kind of thing is so far beneath God’s level that he should just cease to pursue punishing Job.

25 Wilt thou [break/cause to tremble/torment] a leaf [driven to and fro/windblown]?
and wilt thou [pursue/chase after] the dry [stubble/chaff]?

And you can picture a leaf blowing around in your yard.

And a little bit more distant to us is the picture of chaff, because most of us are not working in agriculture. But it’s a similar picture. Something small and light – not substance to it. And it’s just flying around in the breeze. So powerless, so helpless. No threat to anyone.

And yet, Job is picturing God as basically making great efforts to try to chase and crush such an object. And Job wants to question whether this is really a very good use of God’s time and effort.

But the question is – is that really what God is doing? Is he really pursuing Job – this windblown leaf?

Well, Job thinks so. That’s what it seems like from the outer appearance of things – which is all Job has to work with.

God is punishing Job for old sin

And Job continues to express what it seems to him that God is doing to him.

And here’s one idea that Job calls to mind. Maybe God is punishing him for old sins – for sins committed in the past that he can’t remember anymore.

26 For thou writest [down…] bitter things against me,
and makest me to [possess/inherit] the [iniquities/sins] of my youth.

God is… a bully?

And if God is punishing Job for some minute hidden sin, Job starts picturing God as … almost an overbearing bully.

27 Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks,
and [lookest narrowly unto/watch] all my [paths/movements];

thou [settest a print upon/set a limit for/put marks on] the [heels/soles] of my feet.

So, God – in Job’s mind – is so ultra-scrutinizing of Job’s ways.

You can note the control that Job thinks God is exercising in his life – and really, the extreme degree of it.

Job can’t move. And if he does, God is watching him so closely. So, Job is like an ancient slave who has been given a mark on his foot to indicate that he should be returned to his master if he ever escapes the master’s tight control.

God makes Job rot

And ultimately, God – through all of this – is just causing Job to rot away.

28 And [he/I], as a rotten thing, [consumeth/decay/waste away],
[as/like] a garment that is moth eaten.

So, Job thinks that God is causing him to waste away as if he were some rotten piece of food or garment of clothing chewed away at by moths.


And so, that’s Job chapter 13. Job has basically told his friends to be quiet and to listen to him. And what he wants them to listen to is the fact that he’s innocent and he can’t figure out why it seems like God is punishing him. That arrangement contradicts everything that Job and his friends have believed about how God works.

And so, next time in chapter 14 we’ll see the last statements from Job – until his friends make their rebuttals.