Job 12 Commentary

Open your Bibles to Job, chapter 12 for this Job 12 commentary. We’re entering a section in which Job responds to his three friends. They’ve all had a turn to speak to him and so now he’s going to take chapters 12, 13, and 14 to address them.

And in chapter 12, Job addresses his friends sarcastically. They have all tried their hand at “comforting” Job and it’s been a miserable failure. They’ve been trying to help him understand God’s ways.

The problem is that God’s ways don’t make sense to any of them.

The friends think that God’s ways include punishing Job for sin. That makes sense to them – because in their mind sin is always punished and good is always rewarded pretty much immediately in this life.

Job thinks that God’s ways include him being punished – but he knows it’s not because of sin. And since he’s not sinning, he shouldn’t be punished – because good is always rewarded and evil is always punished pretty much immediately in this life.

So, no one here is really understanding God’s ways.

And that’s OK. That’s not the problem. God’s ways are oftentimes past finding out.

The problem is that none of these men have come to the point where they can trust God’s wisdom.

When we can’t understand God’s ways, we must trust his wisdom.

The best these friends could have done for Job is to encourage their friend to trust God’s wisdom. Instead, they try to force God’s ways into a system they understand. And they end up being flat-out wrong in their interpretation of God’s ways with Job.

Job gets sarcastic with his friends

And any time we might find ourselves doing what these friends are doing, we’re going to discover that the one we’re trying to counsel is not going to be very happy. He might even get a little sarcastic – like Job does in verses 1 and 2.

KJV Job 12:1 And Job answered and said,

2 [No doubt but/Truly then/Without a doubt] ye are the people,
and wisdom shall die with you.

So, Job is actually mocking his friends.

He says that they’re the people. That is – they represent and are communicating what the people of their day would view as correct. They represent the “spirit of the age.”

And then Job goes on to claim that wisdom shall die with them. These friends have been carrying themselves so pompously and asserting that what they say is absolutely correct – even though it doesn’t at all correspond to reality in Job’s life.

So, Job takes a swipe at them and communicates to them basically what they seem to think of themselves – that when they die, wisdom itself will be buried alongside them.

Job is as wise as his friends

And yet, Job moves from sarcasm to stating the facts of the matter – he’s just as wise as they are – verse 3.

3 But I have [understanding/intelligence] as well as you;
I am not inferior to you:
yea, who knoweth not such things as these?

So, what the friends are saying is not all that insightful. In fact, Job tells them that nobody is surprised by what they’re claiming. What the friends have been maintaining is old news – it’s commonplace. Job knows that good should be rewarded and evil punished in this life. Everyone else knows it, too.

What these friends are saying is not new and it’s not helpful, either.

Job suffers ill-treatment by his friends

And then, Job goes on to lament his ill-treatment at the hands of his friends in verses 4 and 5.

4 I am [as one mocked/a joke/a laughingstock] [of his neighbour/to my friends],
[The one/I…] who calleth upon God, and he answere[th/d] him:
the just [upright/blameless] man is [laughed to scorn/a joke/a laughingstock].

So, Job is highlighting how wrong this situation is.

He’s upright. He has called upon God and received answers in times past.

But contrast that to what’s happening in his life now. He’s mocked. He’s laughed to scorn.

And his enemies aren’t doing this. At least, that’s not the group he’s talking about in this verse. No, his neighbor or his “friend” is mocking him.

And so, Job continues to lament his friends’ treatment of him in verse 5.

5 He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.

So, Job is the one whose feet are ready to slip. That’s him admitting to his peril in this life. He’s suffering to the point that he feels as though he’s falling – never to rise again.

And for that kind of man, those who aren’t experiencing that kind of trouble should help him.

And yet, that’s not what’s happened in Job’s case with his friends. His friends are at ease and in a position to help him. But instead of helping, they are despising Job. They are thinking little of him. They esteem him as if he were a disposable lamp.

And all of us need to remember that a lamp in Job’s day is not like our lamps. There’s no electricity or fancy decorative lampshade associated with the lamp that Job is referring to.

Job’s lamp would likely have been a small clay pot with a hole into which you’d pour oil and another hole into which you’d insert a wick. You would light the wick which would use the oil to keep the flame burning.

These things are disposable. In that sense, they are despised.

And Job’s friends are treating Job as if he were one of those disposable lamps that you would think little of.

Wicked men sometimes do well

On the other hand – and this totally contradicts the Retribution Theology that Job and his friends have been believing to this point – wicked men seem to do very well in this life, according to verse 6.

6 The [tabernacles/tents] of robbers prosper,
and they that provoke God are secure;
into whose hand God bringeth abundantly. [they bring their god/idol in their hand…]

So, Job is pointing to the injustice of this life that contradicts his previously-held natural theology.

He’s godly – and so according to this theology and that of his friends, he should be blessed. But he’s being punished, apparently.

Meanwhile, wicked men prosper. They’re secure. They steal and provoke God and are idolatrous – but they seem to sometimes be blessed by the very God they provoke and dishonor. That shouldn’t happen. There’s injustice in this life that Retribution Theology doesn’t take into consideration.

And when we consider evil in the world, we like to try to distance God from responsibility for it. We’d like to think that Satan – not God – is responsible for bad things happening to God’s people.

God is responsible for evil prospering

And yet, what we’re going to see in verses 7 through 10 is that Job is going to claim that God is responsible for these things – for the suffering of innocent people and for the prospering of wicked men.

And it’s so obvious, that even animals and the earth itself could tell you – verses 7 and 8.

7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee;
and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:

8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee:
and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.

Well, what are these things teaching us? Verse 9.

9 Who knoweth not [in/among/of] all these
that the hand of the LORD hath [wrought/done] this?

And “this” is referring to the dynamics we just spoke of – wicked men winning and innocent men loosing. The Lord is behind this, according to Job.

And that’s because the Lord has ultimate power over every living being, according to verse 10.

10 In whose hand is the [soul/life] of every living thing,
and the breath of all mankind.

So, if the Lord has power over all things – especially people, then when a person is successful or a failure, he’s the one who ultimately controls that outcome. That’s Job’s point.

And again, this is Job coming to terms with the fact that the way that he’s thought about God is insufficient. He’s finding places where Retribution Theology doesn’t hold true.

The hinge of the chapter

Then Job asks two questions which anticipate an answer of “yes” in verse 11.

11 Doth not the ear [try/test] words?
and the [mouth/palate/tongue] taste his meat?

And with this emphasis on ears and mouths, Job enters into discussing things from the vantage point of human wisdom – what men perceive with their natural senses.

More years, more wisdom

And he says that those who are older tend to have more of this natural wisdom in verse 12.

12 With [the ancient/aged men] is wisdom;
and in [length of days/long life] understanding.

But then Job is going to say basically the same thing about God. Yes – older men have wisdom. When you live a long life you have more understanding than those who haven’t been around as long.

God is wiser

How much more is that the case with God then? Verse 13.

13 With him is wisdom and strength,
he hath counsel and understanding.

So, I think Job is getting at the fact that God is wiser than all three of these friends. I imagine that Job would also be including himself in this group of aged men.

If these four men think they’re wise and understanding – Job is saying that they all need to recognize that they don’t have a corner on the market of wisdom. No – God is wise and understanding.

God uses his wisdom in this world

And God uses his wisdom in this world in all sorts of ways that Job is going to mention in the next several verses. Verse 14.

14 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again:
he [shutteth up/imprisons] a man, and there can be no [opening/release/escape].

And as we read these verses we need to notice the contrasts. God breaks down. What’s the opposite of breaking down? What does one do when something is broken down? You build again. And yet, Job is saying that God is so wise and understanding that if he breaks something down with the intention of it not being rebuilt – that’s exactly what will happen. It won’t be rebuilt.

The next contrast in God’s wisdom that we saw in verse 14 is that of shutting up and releasing. When a man is imprisoned, all his thoughts are on his release. And yet, if God is determined to lock someone up – there can be no release for that person.

And surely Job is thinking of himself in this equation. He feels powerless to do anything to change the mind of this God who seems determined to break down and shut up in Job’s life. And there’s not a thing Job can do.

And of course, what Job just really needs to do is wait and trust God’s wisdom.

God wisely sends drought and floods

But then Job moves on to highlight a contrast involving floods in verse 15.

15 Behold, he [withholdeth/restrains/holds back] the waters, and they dry up:
also he sendeth them out, and they [overturn/inundate/destroy] the earth.

So, if God wants to send drought, that’s just what will happen. He just needs to withhold those waters.

In contrast, if God wants to let those waters go, he can do it – and the results will be catastrophic.

So, you can picture a quantity of water on a spectrum. Envision a faucet just lightly dripping and then being shut off completely. On the other side of the spectrum, picture a fire hydrant being fully vented. But actually, it goes beyond the power of a mere fire hydrant. Job is talking about this water overturning the earth in a Noah’s-flood kind of way.

So, God is wise and understanding. And he uses that wisdom and understanding in both man’s affairs and in nature.

Then Job basically repeats the first line of verse 13 in verse 16 – only in the reverse order.

16 With him is strength and wisdom:
the [deceived/misled] and the [deceiver/misleader] are his.

So, in verse 13 Job said that wisdom and strength are God’s. Now, we just saw that Job says that strength and wisdom are his. So, that’s something like a refrain in this little section.

But then Job says that in some way both the one who deceives and the one who is deceived are God’s. What does that mean?

Well, I think Job again is looking at the natural view of things. And if God is all-powerful and sovereign, and someone deceives someone else, then God in some way or another allows that to happen.

If everything that happens is within God’s wise control, then when deception happens, God at least allows it.

And it’s interesting that Job is recognizing God’s wisdom in life. But he’s not necessarily trusting that wisdom yet.

Do you know what that’s like? To be able to explain to your children or to a lost person how wise God is – while at the same time, not necessarily embracing that wisdom because of some carnality in your life or stubbornness or unbelief?

More contrasts

Well, Job continues with the contrasts that highlight God’s wisdom in verse 17.

17 He leadeth counsellors away [spoiled/barefoot/stripped],
and maketh the judges fools.

Now, counsellors and judges are two groups that you would expect to be honorable and wise. And yet, when and if God wants to dishonor them – and show them to be fools compared to his own wisdom – he can do so very easily.

Kings to paupers

And God can reverse the position of kings as well, according to verse 18.

18 He looseth the bond of kings,
and girdeth their loins with a girdle.

The bond of kings is probably some sort of royal apparel. So, God takes those off and replaces them with the clothing of a servant – a girdle.

God’s wisdom vs. powerful men

And, moving to verse 19 – what God does to counselors back in verse 17 he also does to powerful men in verse 19.

19 He leadeth [princes/priests] away [spoiled/barefoot/stripped],
and overthroweth the [mighty/secure ones/potentates].

Again, we note the contrasts. Princes and the mighty are usually in positions of power. And yet, in God’s wisdom, he can overthrow and lead away spoiled these men.

God’s wisdom vs. the wise

And continuing the contrasts, God can take intangible attributes away from the wise in verse 20.

20 He [removeth away/deprives] the speech of the [trusty/trusted ones/trusted advisors],
and taketh away the [understanding/discernment] of the [aged/elders].

So, those who are trusted because of their wise counsel, God can remove and invalidate and nullify their speech.

And the aged – like Job began speaking of back in verse 12 – are not immune to God’s humbling actions according to what we just read.

And don’t you think that Job has his friends in mind here? They are wise. They are aged. And yet, the way that they’re communicating their so-called wisdom is so unhelpful to Job that he’s probably thinking that God has removed their understanding from them.

God humbles the proud

And once more, Job speaks of God humbling the strong in this life in verse 21.

21 He poureth contempt upon [princes/nobles/noblemen],
and [weakeneth the strength of/loosens the belt of/disarms] the mighty.

So, those who are least likely to be held in contempt – God can hold them in contempt. The mighty have a lot of strength – but even them God can weaken.

God and light and darkness

And then Job moves on – from God’s wisdom applied to reversing situations in men’s lives – to declaring how God works with light and darkness in verse 22.

22 He [discovereth/reveals] [deep things/mysteries] out of darkness,
and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.

So, things that are dark, God is able to bring to light. And I’m sure that’s what Job is hoping that God will do for him – bring into light the truth that seems to be concealed – which is that Job has not done anything to deserve this treatment from God.

God’s wisdom vs. the nations

Next though, Job speaks of God’s wisdom and understanding applied to the nations in verse 23.

23 He [increaseth/makes great] the nations, [and/then] destroyeth them:
he [enlargeth/extends the boundaries of] the nations, and [straiteneth/leads away/disperses] them again.

So, Job is saying that God increases the size and populations of various nations. But then the contrast – he destroys them and leads them away.

And this often happens because God deals with the leaders of those nations, according to verse 24.

24 He taketh away the [heart/intelligence/understanding] of the [chief/leaders] of the people of the earth,
and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no [way/path].

25 They grope in the dark without light,
and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.

So, Job has heard his three friends. But he finds their wisdom lacking. They’re not proving themselves to be able to help him in his distress.

They’re not helping him to trust God’s wisdom. Instead, they’re trying to help him understand God’s ways, which isn’t working.

So, Job spent this chapter telling his friends that their advice is not helping and then explaining God’s wisdom in the world.

And Job will continue in chapters 13 and 14 responding to this first cycle of speeches by his friends.

Job 11 Summary

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Job chapter 11 for this Job 11 summary. We’ll be studying verses eleven through twenty of this chapter in this article. To study the first ten verses, see our Job 11 commentary article.

Job 11 Summary God is Aware of Wicked Men

But back in our text, Zophar continues and asserts that God is well-aware of wicked men in verse 11.

11 For he knoweth [vain/false/deceitful] men:
he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it?

So, the existence of wicked men is no secret or surprise to God. And if God can see wickedness, he surely won’t pass it over in his mind – rather he will consider it and what to do about it.

Job 11 Summary Fools Becoming Wise

And then Zophar makes a rather strange statement that basically amounts to acknowledging that men like this have the potential of becoming wise – but that’s highly unlikely. Verse 12.

12 [For vain man/An idiot/An empty man] [would be/will become] wise,
[though/When] man be born like a wild ass’s colt. [when the foal of a wild donkey is born a man…]

And of course, these statements are being made in response to Job’s claim of being innocent of any supposed sin that would bring God’s punishment on him. And so, we can imagine that Zophar is intending most of what he says to be directed squarely at Job.

Job – then – is the “vain man.” Job has committed wickedness. Zophar is speaking of Job as he insinuates that Job is living a lie and is really wicked.

But Zophar doesn’t want this to be the case for Job – that he would be wicked and that his attaining wisdom would be nearly impossible. He does want Job to become wise.

Job 11 Summary Advice

So, Zophar is going to give Job some advice on getting out of his present sufferings – just like the other two friends have done.

13 [As for you…] If thou [prepare thine heart/prove faithful],
and stretch out thine hands toward him;

So, that’s Zophar’s first suggestion – seek God and pray to him. This sounds an awful lot like Bildad’s suggestion earlier…

And just like we considered when Bildad mentioned this, we again acknowledge that Job has – of course – done this already. And Zophar would have known this if he just asked Job.

Job 11 Summary Forsake Sin

But second – in Zophar’s master plan to restore Job to the place where God will bless him again – Job needs to – of course – forsake his sin. Verse 14.

14 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away,
and let not [wickedness/evil] [dwell/reside] in thy [tabernacles/tents].

And so, in summary, Job must pray and abandon his sin.

Job 11 Summary Good Life

Then God will make life good for Job again – verse 15.

15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without [spot/moral defect/blemish];
yea, thou shalt be [stedfast/securely established], and shalt not fear:

And all Job’s troubles will be forgotten – again, if he simply prays and repents of his sin – verse 16.

16 Because thou shalt forget thy [misery/trouble],
and remember it as waters that [pass/have flowed] away:

Job 11 Summary Dark to Bright

In addition, Job’s dark life will be bright once more.

17 And thine [age/life] shall be [clearer/brighter] than the noonday;
thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.

Job 11 Summary Peace and Safety

And, Job will experience nothing but peace and safety – if he just gets with the Retribution Theology plan and starts praying and stops sinning!

18 And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope;
yea, thou [shalt dig about thee/will be protected], and thou shalt [take thy rest in safety/rest securely/take your rest in safety].

And Job will be returned to his old position of counseling others.

19 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid;
yea, many shall [make suit unto thee/entreat your favor/seek your favor].

And actually, we do see people “making suit” to Job or seeking his favor after this.

But that happens at the end of this book. And it doesn’t happen because Job hasn’t been praying but starts to do so – or because he has been sinning and he stops. It happens when God comes and sets things straight and tells these three worthless friends that they need to “make suit unto” Job – or seek Job’s favor so that Job will pray to God for them.

Job 11 Summary Fate of the Wicked

And so, Zophar ends his speech in verse 20 after speaking so glowingly about what will happen to Job once he starts praying and stops sinning – and he’s going to remind Job of the fate of the wicked.

20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape,
and their hope shall be [as the giving up of the ghost/to breathe their last].

So, that’s all the wicked can hope for. Death. And – according to Zophar – that’s all Job can expect unless he cuts the nonsense and starts praying and stops sinning.

But, of course, as we all know, this is not what is going to help Job. Job does pray. Job has no unconfessed sin that God is punishing him for here.

And so, next time Job will need to respond to Zophar’s frustratingly-unhelpful advice.

Job 11 Commentary

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Job chapter 11 for this Job 11 commentary. We’ll be studying the first ten verses of this chapter in this article. To study verses eleven through twenty, see our Job 11 summary article.

Now, after Eliphaz and Bildad struck out, it’s a good thing that Job has one more friend who is ready to help Job understand God’s ways!

His name is Zophar.  And he’s going to finish this first of three cycles of speeches in which each of Job’s friends has spoken followed by a rebuttal from Job.

Job 11 Commentary Zophar Introduced

And so, we’re introduced to this last friend in chapter 11 and verse 1.

KJV Job 11:1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

2 Should not [the/this] [multitude/abundance] of words be answered?
and should a man full of talk be [justified/acquitted/vindicated]?

So, once again, as with Job’s other two friends, Zophar is not ready to deal with Job’s claims that contradict their Retribution Theology.

And once again, we see Job’s ideas dismissed in quite a demeaning way. Zophar claims that all of the varied and nuanced ideas that Job is wrestling with – they just all amount to a bunch of worthless words. Job’s just full of talk.

But – the question I think we should be asking is – who really is “full of talk?” The man who is wrestling with the fact that his man-made theology just doesn’t seem to work with the realities of life – which would be Job? Or is it the man who isn’t engaging at all in that kind of wrestling – but is rather content to defend his incorrect view of how God works in the world – Zophar? I’d say it’s Zophar who’s “full of talk.”

Job 11 Commentary Lies and Mocking

Well, what Zophar reveals next is that he considers Job’s verbalized wrestling to be nothing more than lies and mocking in verse 3.

3 Should thy [lies/boasts/idle talk] [make men hold their peace/silence men/reduce people to silence]?
and when thou [mockest/scoff], shall no man [make thee ashamed/rebuke you]?

So, Zophar believes that Job’s communication deserves a rebuke that would shame him.

Job 11 Commentary Rebuke

And so, that’s just what Zophar is going to try to administer here starting in verse 4 – a rebuke to Job.

4 For thou hast said,

My [doctrine/teaching] is [pure/flawless],
and I am [clean/innocent] in thine [eyes/sight].

And, I’m actually not quite sure that this is indeed what Job has said. I can’t recall him speaking of his teaching or doctrine at all.

Maybe, what Zophar means is that by asserting that he is innocent and by arguing with these men, Job is attempting to teach them. And in that context then, Job is claiming that what he is saying to them – his doctrine – is right.

And of course, what Job has been teaching them is that he himself is innocent of any sin that might be causing God to punish him. In that sense, he’s clean.

And Job has been asserting that he should be clean and innocent – not just in the eyes of his friends – but more importantly, in the eyes of God. (The word thine is actually singular.) Job has been teaching them to think of him as an innocent man in God’s sight.

But, of course, Zophar knows better.

Job 11 Commentary God Should Speak

And – whereas Job has been verbally wishing for God to speak and reveal that Job is innocent – Zophar wishes that God would speak… and condemn Job for the secret sin he’s been harboring! Verse 5.

5 But [oh that/if only] God would speak,
and open his lips against thee;

6 And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom,
[that they are double to that which is/for sound wisdom has two sides]!

Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. [God has forgiven some of your sins…]

So, Zophar is thinking that the fact that God is remaining silent about Job is a merciful act.

Job considers God’s silence in a very negative light. But Zophar thinks that by not speaking, God is basically holding back some of his punishment of Job. God isn’t treating Job with the full justice that he has coming to him – in Zophar’s mind.

Job 11 Commentary Can’t Find out God

And then, Zophar moves on to tell Job that God’s ways are past finding out. Verse 7.

7 Canst thou [by searching find out/discover the depths of/discover the essence of] God?
canst thou find out the [Almighty unto/Almighty’s] perfection?

And the implied answer is “No, you can’t find out God by searching.” He’s deep and beyond us.

Job 11 Commentary Transcendent

Then Zophar uses two great contrasts to speak of God’s transcendence that makes him ultimately so unknowable in a number of ways to our senses. Verse 8.

8 [It/God] is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?
deeper than [hell/Sheol]; what canst thou know?

God is high and deep all at once. And therefore, what can the mortal mind and what can unaided eyes do to God or really know about God?

And once more, this points to the great need in this book that goes largely unspoken of. That need is the need for God to reveal himself to man. Without what theologians call “special revelation” – God’s word to mankind – we are all so lost when it comes to understanding God.

The heavens certainly do declare the glory of God (Psalm 19). His creation around us proves to everyone that there is a God (Romans 1). And yet, all we know from these witnesses that God has left us is that there is a God and he’s powerful and eternal.

Otherwise creation – or we could call it “natural revelation” – doesn’t tell us much. What is God like? What is his relationship to man? What does he require of us? Is there some sort of offense that we’ve caused God? If so, what would allow for us to be atoned with this offended all-powerful being? Is there some consequence for not being reconciled to God?

All these questions – and so many more – are responded to with silence by natural revelation. We need special revelation – God’s revealed truth about these matters.

And here’s the thing – Job and his friends seem to – by-and-large – not have this kind of revelation. They’re operating mostly on what they can see and what they’ve been taught and what they assume to be right about God.

And it’s really just at the end of this book – when they finally receive some special revelation – that all of a sudden all of their disputes and arguments cease.

But they don’t have that yet – and so here we go continuing with the assumptions and the guessing.

Job 11 Commentary God is Immense

And in that context, Zophar uses two measures of distance to show how immense God is. Verse 9.

9 The measure thereof is longer than the earth,
and broader than the sea.

So, Zophar gets God’s awesome power. He knows that a being who created the world he lives in must be somehow bigger than what he created.

Job 11 Commentary God Can’t be Held to Account

And then Zophar demonstrates that God is not held to account by any – which is probably a hint to Job to stop questioning his ways. Verse 10.

10 If he [cut off/passes by/comes by], and [shut up/confines you], [or gather together/and calls an assembly/and convenes a court],
then who can [hinder/restrain/prevent] him?

And so, what Zophar has said in verses 7 – 10 is generally right. No one can totally understand God’s ways – especially when he hasn’t revealed the whys or hows of his ways.

And yet, Zophar is using that assertion – which is right – to basically tell Job to be quiet and to stop questioning their man-made Retribution Theology. Because, that’s what Job is questioning. He’s questioning the way that their natural minds perceive that God ought to act.

But there’s a level of separation between how we think that God should act, and how he actually does act. To criticize the way God really acts is wrong. To criticize and sharpen and adjust our conception of how God acts is right.

And once again, the problem for Job and his friends is that they have to wait to the end of the book in order to get some revelation from God that will adjust their thinking about God to match the reality of what God is like.

Job 10 Summary

Job 10 Summary: And God’s merciful relationship to Job in times past was not limited to his initial formation in his mother’s womb. God was tender and merciful to Job even after his birth. Verse 12.

12 Thou hast granted me life and favour, [chesed…]
and thy [visitation/care/intervention] hath [preserved/watched over] my spirit.

And, even though it seems like – from the way that God is acting toward Job now – that God is almost trying to hide the fact that at one point he was merciful to Job. Nevertheless, Job remembers these things, as he says in verse 13.

Job 10 Summary | Remember

13 [And/Yet/But] these things hast thou [hid/concealed] in thine heart:
I know that this is [with/within] thee.

But all those tender thoughts seem to just dissolve as Job brings back to the forefront of his thinking the seeming fact that God is punishing him as if he were a sinner in verses 14 and 15.

Job 10 Summary | Sinner

14 If I sin, then thou [markest/would take note of/would watch] me,
and thou [wilt/would] not acquit me from mine iniquity.

15 If I be [wicked/guilty], woe unto me;
and if I be [righteous/innocent], yet [will/dare] I not lift up my head.

So, in Job’s mind, he can’t do right.

If he sins – he feels like God will mark him for it and not forgive him and keep punishing him. If he’s wicked, there’s nothing but woe in his life from this God who is punishing him for no apparent reason. And yet, even if Job acts completely righteously – like he has been for most of his life, according to chapter 1 – even then it’s not like Job can boast of anything and “lift up his head” in that sense.

Job 10 Summary | Confusion

So, whether Job is wicked or righteous – it doesn’t seem to matter – especially in light of how God has been treating him. And all of those realities cause great confusion to Job.

I am full of [confusion/shame];
[therefore see thou/and satiated with/and conscious of] mine affliction;

And so, Job is going to detail his affliction at the hand of God in verses 16 and 17.

Job 10 Summary | Affliction

16 [For it increaseth/If I lift myself up]. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion:
and again thou [shewest/display] [thyself marvellous upon/your power against] me.

17 Thou [renewest thy/bring new] witnesses against me,
and increasest thine [indignation/anger] [upon/toward/against] me;
[changes and war/relief troops] [are/come] against me.

So, Job’s afflictions are increasing. Job pictures God as a lion stalking him to kill him. In Job’s mind God is marvelous… but marvelously powerful and violent against him – like a lion.

And then in verse 17 we saw Job speak of God constantly renewing his attack on Job. God is pictured as constantly bringing in new witnesses against him in a court of law. God’s anger is constantly renewed against Job. It’s as if God is constantly bringing new troops to fight against the beleaguered Job.

Constant. Renewal. Of attacks. On the part of God against the righteous Job.

Job 10 Summary | Why?

And because of this practical bullying that Job feels that he’s receiving at the hands of God, Job wonders why God even brought him out of the womb, after having formed him there – as Job was musing on earlier in this chapter. Verses 18 and 19.

18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb?
Oh that I had [given up the ghost/died], and no eye had seen me!

19 I should have been as though I had not been;
I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.

If God is going to pummel Job as he has been doing, then Job is once again letting his mind fixate on the “what-ifs” associated with the thought of his dying before entering this world.

Job 10 Summary | Desperate

And then, Job ends this chapter on a very desperate and morbid note wherein he pleads with God to just leave him alone.

20 Are not my days few?
cease then, and let me alone,
that I may take comfort a little,

21 Before I go whence I shall not return,
even to the land of darkness and [the shadow of death/deepest shadow];

22 A land of [darkness/utter gloom/utter darkness], [as/like] [darkness itself/the deepest darkness]; and of the shadow of death,
without any order, and where [even…] the light is as darkness.

Again, Job is picturing death as just darkness and disorder. And I think we need to keep in mind that Job is not giving a polished and reasoned speech on eschatology here. Job is uttering his bitterness without holding back – as he said he was going to do at the beginning of this chapter.

And therefore, I don’t think that we should take what he says to be didactic – or teaching – on what death really is like. We should not base our theology of the afterlife on what Job says, generally.

Job 10 Summary | Resurrection

It’s hard to know what Job would actually understand about life after the death of his body. I do think that we see later in the book that he believes in a resurrection. And yet, that’s not where he’s letting his mind go here. Here in this chapter, Job is simply focused on the physical, tangible, visible aspects of death – which is, that’s the end. For your physical body, it’s darkness and shadow. And there’s no return to your old life.

And so, that’s how Job ends his response to Bildad. He’s utterly confused. He can’t understand God’s ways. He’s not really at the point where he is trusting God’s wisdom, either.

Job 10 Commentary

As we enter this Job 10 commentary, we remind ourselves that we saw in chapter 9 Job agreeing with Bildad that generally God does reward good and punish evil. And yet, we also saw Job diverging from Bildad’s opinions by asserting that he (Job) is the exception to this rule of how God runs the world.

Job 10 Commentary | No Holding Back

And so, we’re going to see Job continue to express his struggle with God’s dealings with him.  And he’s not going to hold back. Verse 1.

KJV Job 10:1 My soul is weary of my life;
I will [leave my complaint upon myself/give full vent to my complaint/complain without restraint];
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.

And here’s one thing he’s going to say as he vents his complaint and bitterness of soul. Verse 2.

2 I will say unto God,

Do not condemn me;
[shew/tell] me wherefore thou contendest with me.

So, Job is demanding that God stop condemning him. And that’s what he’s doing – in Job’s mind. But in reality we know that God is not condemning Job.

And then Job demands of God that he tell Job why he’s fighting against him.

And so, Job is really starting to get aggressive with God.

Job 10 Commentary | Aggressive Questioning

And Job’s aggressive questioning of God continues in verse 3.

3 Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress,
that thou shouldest [despise/reject] the work of thine hands,
[and/while you] [shine/look favorably/smile] upon the [counsel/schemes] of the wicked?

And this is what Job has concluded that God does.

But, that’s confusing to Job, because Job and his friends have believed firmly that God does not work this way. They believe that God rewards good and punishes bad pretty much immediately. At least, this always happens eventually in this life according to their mindset.

So, to suggest that God does the opposite is just a revolutionary thought. Job’s friends would think that what Job is saying here is heretical – sacrilegious – scandalous.

And Job would have agreed with them. Until he became the exception to the rule of their natural  theology that we call Retribution Theology.

So, Job is asserting that God is despising him while treating the wicked favorably. That’s not the way that God should work – Job argues!

Job 10 Commentary | Maybe God’s Wrong…

And Job knows that what he’s about to say is totally ridiculous. But he’s going to suggest it anyway in verse 4. What can explain the fact that – to Job – God is not acting in keeping with how he thinks God acts? He asks…

4 Hast thou eyes of flesh?
or seest thou as [man/a human being] seeth?

5 Are thy days as the days of [man/a mortal]?
are thy years as man’s [days/years],

So, Job is confronting the God of the universe and suggesting that he is really acting like a mere mortal who can be mistaken in his judgement.

That’s pretty risky. What Job is suggesting is that God is mistaken in his judgement of things. How much longer before he simply abandons God – curses him to his face, if you will? Though, we’re not told, we can imagine that Satan is really enjoying where this conversation is heading.

Job 10 Commentary | Mistaken

And so, here’s where Job is going with his assertion that God is acting like a mere mortal in having this mistaken perception as to how Job ought to be treated. Verse 6.

6 That thou [enquirest after/seek for/search out] mine [iniquity/guilt],
and [searchest after/inquire about] my sin?

And Job’s insinuation is that – if God were fully aware of the situation, he wouldn’t be doing this – searching out Job’s iniquity and sin. Because – according to verse 7 – Job is innocent.

7 [Thou knowest that/According to your knowledge/Although you know] I am not [wicked/guilty];
[and/Yet] there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.

And so, now Job is actually coming to the place where he is entertaining the thought of having someone else deliver him from God’s power. He’s starting to look at God as though he were so misguided in the way he’s treating him, that he’s starting to wonder if there’s someone who might help protect him from this God – whom he’s worshipped and served and trusted these past decades of his life.

And I think that’s about the lowest that Job goes for now. I sense that he’s been sinking deeper and deeper into entertaining unworthy thoughts about God. But thankfully he’s not going to stay there.

Job 10 Commentary | God Was Good

Because starting in verse 8, Job brings back to his memory – and God’s – how God has been his helper and protector and creator. And in light of God’s past mercies to him – he asks for God to return to his merciful dealings with Job.

8 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me [together round about/altogether];
yet thou dost destroy me.

And what a contrast that is.

Job is calling to mind the fact that God created him in the womb. And that’s a beautiful thought and calls to mind how powerful and wonderful God is.

But then, the very thing that God so masterfully created, he’s now utterly destroying.

It doesn’t make sense to Job. He can’t understand God’s ways.

And, rather than seeking God’s wisdom in his suffering, Job keeps trying to work through in his mind God’s ways and he tries to make some sense of them.

Job 10 Commentary | Back to Dust

But what God’s doing makes no sense to Job. God formed him from the dust – as it were – and it looks like God is returning him to dust. Verse 9.

9 Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay;
and wilt thou bring me into dust again?

Then Job goes on to speak in more poetic detail of how God formed him in verse 9.

10 Hast thou not poured me out as milk,
and curdled me like cheese?

And that might sound like Job is being negative. But as I read this statement in context, I don’t think his statement in verse 10 is negative. I think he’s simply speaking of God’s creating him. As milk has to be curdled to make cheese – so, too, does the human body need to be formed and fashioned in the womb.

Job 10 Commentary | Creating

And that goes along with what we have in verse 11, where Job continues to speak of God creating and forming him.

11 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh,
and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.

So, Job is appealing to the fact that God has so mercifully and skillfully created him.

What being is going to destroy something he created? And created so intimately and skillfully, at that!

I think that’s what Job’s doing here – he’s appealing to God’s special relationship with him – in order to find mercy with this God who – in Job’s mind – is punishing and mistreating him.

Job 9 Summary

Welcome to our Job 9 summary, where we’ll study the Job, chapter 9, verses 24 through 35. If you’d like to study verses 1-11 read our Job 9 commentary and our Job 9 explained article for verses 12-23.

So, God laughs at the plight of the innocent. God also – supposedly – causes injustice in this world. Verse 24.

9:24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked:
he covereth the faces of the judges thereof;

if not, [where/he], [and/then] who is he? [that covers the faces…]

So, Job is envisioning a time where wicked men have their way in this life and no one can stop them. At that very moment, God – allegedly – causes their judges to turn a blind eye to the wickedness.

And Job realizes this accusation is shocking – even to him. And that’s why he asks that rhetorical question – If it’s not God that’s doing this, then who is?

So, we saw Job assert that Bildad’s way of thinking – that good always prospers and evil always fails in this life – that this thinking just doesn’t add up with Job’s experiences or the experiences of so many others in this cruel world.

Job 9 Summary | Life

And so, now Job returns to considering his own life. Verse 25.

9:25 Now my days are swifter than a [post/runner]:
they flee away, they see no [good/happiness].

9:26 They [are passed away/slip by/glide by] as the [swift ships/reed boats]:
as the eagle that [hasteth/swoops down] to the prey.

So, Job’s life is flying by with absolutely no enjoyment.

Job 9 Summary | Can’t Pretend It’s OK

And Job would like to feign as though everything was fine – but it just won’t work because God – in his mind – is against him. Verse 27.

9:27 If I say, I will forget my complaint,
I will [leave off/change] my [heaviness/expression], and [comfort myself/be cheerful]:

9:28 I [am afraid of/dread] all my [sorrows/pains/sufferings],
I know that thou wilt not [hold me innocent/acquit me/hold me blameless].

So, even when Job tries to “look on the bright side” he feels as though God will not allow it because he apparently – in Job’s mind – wrongfully thinks that Job is guilty. Which of course we know to be false. God doesn’t think Job is guilty.

Job 9 Summary | Question

And then Job asks this question in verse 29.

9:29 If I be [accounted as…] [wicked/guilty],
why then [labour I/weary myself] in vain?

And I think here, Job might be expressing despair. If God is going to count him as wicked, then why even go on?

Job 9 Summary | Never Good Enough

Because, Job feels that whatever he does is not good enough for God. Verse 30.

9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, [which would be pretty difficult to find in the desert southeast of Israel – where Job was…]
and make my hands never so clean;

9:31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the [ditch/pit/slimy pit],
and mine own clothes shall abhor me.

So, if Job tries his best to physically cleanse himself, God will just pick him up – as it were – and throw him into a mud pit where his clothes will get totally filthy.

And that’s just a picture of Job’s frustration over trying to be righteous and yet having God apparently ignore those attempts and instead respond to those attempts with acting as if Job were totally wicked.

So, it’s totally understandable that with all of this confusion, Job would want to confront God and explain his situation to him. Because apparently God is not quite aware of the whole situation – at least from Job’s perspective!

Job 9 Summary | No Court Date

And that’s why Job expresses some frustration with not being able to confront God in a court in order to get all of this settled and straightened out. Verse 32.

9:32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him,
and we should come together in judgment. [in a court…]

9:33 Neither is there any [daysman/umpire/arbiter] betwixt us,
that might lay his hand upon us both.

And because that’s the case – that he can’t get God in court to argue with him that what he’s doing in Job’s life isn’t right – Job just speaks out in a wishful way, begging for God to remove his punishing hand from him – and yet, realizing that this would never happen. Verse 34.

9:34 Let him take his rod away from me,
and let not his fear terrify me:

9:35 Then would I speak, and not fear him;
but it is not so with me.

Job 9 Explained

Welcome to our Job 9 explained article, where we’ll study Job chapter 9, verses 12 through 23. If you’d like to study verses 1-11 read our Job 9 commentary and our Job 9 summary for verses 24-35.

So, God can hide himself, according to verse 11. In addition though, if God positively wants to do anything, no one can stop him. Verse 12.

9:12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him?
who will say unto him,

What doest thou?

Job 9 Explained | Anger

And furthermore, no one can stop God’s anger. Verse 13.

9:13 If God will not withdraw his anger,
the [proud helpers/helpers of Rahab] do stoop under him.

Now, some versions have instead of “proud helpers” the “helpers of Rahab.” That’s because rahab in Hebrew means proud. But it can also be referring to the raging sea that God tamed at creation.

And I know that that’s sort of confusing. So, here’s what we really need to take away from verse 13.

Apparently, these proud helpers or helpers of Rahab are very strong. Not as strong as God, but stronger than men.

Job 9 Explained | Weakness

Because moving into verse 14, Job contrasts their apparent strength with his own weakness – and he feels that he has no chance of holding back God’s seemingly-unjust anger at him.

9:14 How much less shall I answer him,
and choose out my words to [reason/argue] with him?

And, so far what we’ve seen from Job is basically despair. He is just at a loss to understand this God whom he’s been serving and obeying and trusting.

He thought that God was just. He still knows he’s just. But now Job is struggling to understand how a just and powerful God can treat him the way he’s treating him.

The way that God is working doesn’t fit into Job’s theology.

And I want to ask  if we know what that’s like.

Do you know what it’s like to feel that God requires something of you that he himself is making impossible for you to do?

Do you know what it’s like to do what you think to be the right thing with full confidence in God – only to have it make you look like a fool and lead to all sorts of pain and sorrow?

Sometimes God doesn’t fit into our theology. And the solution is not to adjust God – but to adjust our theology – our thinking about God – to match what he really is like.

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And that’s what I think we witness in Job’s life throughout this book – Job’s theology being adjusted to God’s reality.

Job 9 Explained | Innocence

Now, moving on, it’s one thing to defend yourself when you’re actually guilty. It’s another matter to have to do this when you’re innocent. And yet, even though Job is innocent, he finds it impossible to defend himself before God. Verse 15.

9:15 Whom, though I were righteous, yet [would/could] I not answer,
but I [would/could only] [make supplication to/plead for mercy with] my judge.

So, if Job could find God he would offer a plea for mercy – a supplication. That’s all he can do because in Job’s experience, God is not answering his prayers, he’s not relenting of the supposed punishment, and he’s not revealing to Job why he’s punishing this righteous man.

Job 9 Explained | Amazement

And yet, if God were to actually answer Job’s pathetic cries, Job would be amazed. Verse 16.

9:16 If I had called, and he had answered me;
yet [would/could] I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.

And, why would Job be amazed if God were to answer him?

Job 9 Explained | Violent Oppression

That’s what he explains in verses 17 and 18. Job wouldn’t believe it if God finally answers him – because Job feels that God has been – not only aloof and distant – but actually violently oppressive to him.

9:17 For he [breaketh/bruises/crushes] me with a tempest,
and multiplieth my wounds without cause.

9:18 He will not suffer me to take my breath,
but filleth me with bitterness.

And it’s interesting to remember that God admitted to the truth of Job’s second statement in verse 17. God did tell Satan that he moved God to harm Job “without cause.”

And what this feels like to Job is as if he was being smashed and blown against by a fierce storm with raging winds. And in the context of that storm there would be high winds.

Now, have you ever stuck your head out the window of a car that’s moving fast? If you have, then you know what it’s like to feel the pressure of the wind hitting your face and making it almost impossible to take a breath.

And that’s what Job asserted in verse 18 – it’s like God is sending a storm with raging wind – as it were – upon Job and the result is that he feels as though can’t breathe.

Job 9 Explained | Circular Thinking

Well, moving on, I think we see in the next three verses Job engaging in more of his circular thinking where he recognizes his own innocence – and then he looks at the suffering God is sending and he thinks that God seems to be doing him wrong – but then he recognizes that God is always good and right – and so, he ends that way of reasoning in verse 21 with a few statements that seem to make him sound as if he was beside himself. Start in verse 19.

9:19 If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong:
and if of [judgment/justice], [he will say…] who shall [set me a time to plead/summon me]?

So, God is strong and if someone wants to argue his justice, God would just ask him a rhetorical question that indicates that that person has no right to argue with him – because God is always right.

Job 9 Explained | Mouth Condemns

Then, Job indicates that even though he himself is innocent, his own mouth and even God himself – in his mind – will find reasons to accuse him in verse 20.

9:20 [If/Though] I [justify myself/am righteous/am innocent], mine own mouth shall condemn me:
if I say, I am [perfect/guiltless], [it/he] shall also [prove/declare] me [perverse/guilty].

And, it’s like at this point Job is starting to entertain the thought that maybe he really is guilty of something he’s not aware of.

Because there seems to be all this evidence against him – especially the fact that God is seeming to punish him without relenting.

And we all know that God allows bad things to happen to only bad people. And so, Job starts thinking that maybe he is really committing some evil he doesn’t know about.

As if Job’s mouth would somehow be able to prove that he’s worthy of punishment – even though Job himself is utterly unaware of anything that would be in his life calling for God’s dealing with him the way he has. And yet – in Job’s mind – there must be something that’s causing God to deal with him so harshly and punitively.

Job 9 Explained | Confused Desperation

So, you can sense the confusion in Job’s heart. And, I think Job ends this little section with making three assertions that express his confused desperation in verse 21.

9:21 [Though I were perfect/I am guiltless/I am blameless], [just as he thought about saying in verse 20, but now he comes right out and declares it here…]
[yet would I not know my soul/I don’t know myself]:
I [would/do] despise my life.

So, Job is blameless but he feels like he doesn’t even know himself anymore. And therefore, he despises his life because he just can’t understand God’s ways in his life.

Job 9 Explained | Recap

And because of these confusing realities, Job justifies his previous statements thus far in verse 22.

9:22 [This is one thing/It’s all one], therefore I said it,
He destroyeth the [perfect/guiltless/blameless] and the [wicked/guilty].

So, in this way, Job is disagreeing with Bildad. Bildad claimed that God punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous. And Job would tend to agree. But now Job is starting to say “No, that can’t be the way it always is. Yes, I understand that’s generally the way God works. But that’s not what’s happening in my situation!

Job 9 Explained | Injustice in Life

And, it’s not just that these Retribution Theology principles don’t work out in Job’s situation only. No – this kind of seeming injustice happens all over the world – as Job starts to recognize in verse 23.

9:23 If the scourge slay suddenly,
he [God…] [will laugh at/mocks] the [trial/despair] of the innocent.

Now, does God really laugh when difficulties hit innocent people? I’m not so sure that he does. I think Job is not quite right here. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal covenant love.

And yet, isn’t Job’s assessment of things exactly how it appears when you know that God is sovereign and all-powerful and yet he causes suffering in this world?

Think of children in war zones dying of starvation. Think of the millions of babies killed by the abortion industry in our country. Think of those suffering under brutal repressive regimes throughout the world.

And by just looking at these realities on the surface, you can start to think that God just callously laughs at his creation’s catastrophes.

But that’s just from the bare appearance of things. That’s why we need God’s revealed truth that tells us more about our God than nature – and the happenings that we can see around us – reveal to us.

So, mass deaths of innocent people – according to Job – God laughs at.

Job 9 Commentary

Welcome to our Job 9 commentary, where we’ll study the first 11 verses of Job, chapter 9. If you’d like to study verses 12-23 read our Job 9 explained article and our Job 9 summary for verses 24-35.

Open your Bibles to Job, chapter 9.

So, now we enter the 9th chapter of Job where Job responds to Bildad’s assertions in chapter 8.

And in this section we see Job becoming more and more desirous of bringing God to court – as it were – to determine exactly what God is charging him of. What crime has Job committed?

Because certainly – in Job’s mind – God has to be charging Job with some wrong-doing that would cause him to bring such suffering into Job’s life!

Job 9 Commentary Retribution Theology

And that’s because – again – all of these men in this book are subscribing to what we call retribution theology. Good is rewarded. Evil is punished.

And we talked at the end of our last lesson in our little Q&A time about how natural this kind of thinking is to humanity.

In our unguarded moments, we might tend to think – for example – that if it’s a sunny day, God must be smiling on us.

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And vice versa – if it’s cloudy then God is angry.

In fact, the psalmists even use that kind of imagery from time to time.

When the psalmist asks God in Psalm 4:6 to lift the light of his countenance upon him, he’s alluding to the picture of a shining sun. God’s blessing is pictured as a bright cloudless day.

And in contrast, God’s anger is often pictured as a storm with clouds and darkness.

So, this is natural. We tend to look at the appearance of things and try to determine unseen realities based on what is seen.

Furthermore though, this is actually how God often works. The way God’s creation works is typically that if someone is rebellious against God’s rules, he will meet with punishment – in this life even! That’s emphasized in the Book of Proverbs. It’s also how God speaks at the end of Deuteronomy. Do good – be rewarded. Do evil – be punished. This is actually how God often works.

However, he doesn’t always work like this. And that’s the main problem with the thinking of these characters in this book. Their allegiance to Retribution Theology is unable to be modified. There is no room for exceptions.

And that’s the issue – Job is the exception. Job is righteous and yet he’s not being rewarded but rather – it looks like he’s being punished.

And so, it’s interesting that in this chapter we start seeing Job asserting that the Retribution Theology’s explanation for the way the world works… isn’t always right. And yet, that fact is still a great bother to him – as it usually is when our understanding of the way the world works is challenged.

Job 9 Commentary | Start

So, let’s start looking at this in verse 1.

9:1 Then Job answered and said,

9:2 I know it is so of a truth:
but how should man be [just with/in the right before] God?

Now, we need to consider how to think about what Job just said. He concedes that Bildad is right!

But what is Bildad right about?

Job can’t be saying that Bildad is right in insinuating that Job is hiding secret sin for which he needs to repent.

Rather, Job is saying that the way-of-the-world that Bildad describes – Job basically agrees with. The way Bildad describes things – good being rewarded by God and evil being punished – Job too thinks that that’s the way it works.

And yet, that second statement of Job’s indicates that he feels the need to settle something with God. In that sense he needs to be just or even justified – be proven right – before God.

Well, why is that?

Because Job knows that he isn’t suffering for hidden sin. He’s “good” in that sense. And yet, his “good” is not being rewarded – rather it’s being punished. At least, that’s how it seems. And so, in Job’s mind, God is not holding to his end of the bargain.

But Job knows that God is totally right. And so… there’s this mental impasse in his mind that goes like this. God should be acting this way, but he’s not. So, God is bad. Wait – no! God is good always. But then why isn’t he acting the way I think he should and how Bildad and Eliphaz are reminding me that he acts… And … on and on.

Job 9 Commentary | Inner Wrestling

And we see some of that inner wrestling in the next several verses as Job muses on how he would even get a hearing from God to address what he thinks is basically God not acting in keeping with his character.

9:3 If he [anyone…] will contend with him [God…],
he cannot answer him [God…] one of a thousand [times…].

So, Job notes the fact that God can’t be answered. And we actually see that later on – when God does indeed ask Job numerous questions to which Job has no answer.

Job 9 Commentary | God is Wise and Strong

Next, Job admits that God is both wise and strong in verse 4.

9:4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength:
who hath [hardened himself against/defied/resisted] him, and [hath prospered/remained safe]?

So, Job is recognizing that God knows everything and that he’s able to do anything.

And, yes, Bildad is right – says Job – people who resist God do not prosper! They face harm.

Job 9 Commentary | God Moves Mountains

And that’s because those kinds of people are up against the God who moves mountains. Verse 5.

9:5 Which removeth the mountains, [and they know not/suddenly]:
which overturneth them in his anger.

Job 9 Commentary | God Causes Earthquakes

And God does this often by causing earthquakes. Verse 6.

9:6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place,
and the pillars thereof tremble.

Job 9 Commentary | Sun and Stars

God can even command the sun and stars to not shine and they will obey. Verse 7.

9:7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not;
and sealeth up the stars.

Job 9 Commentary | Heavens and Sea

In addition, God created the heavens and sea. Verse 8.

9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens,
and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.

Job 9 Commentary | Constellations

And within the heaven, he made the constellations of stars. Verse 9.

9:9 Which maketh [Arcturus/the Bear], Orion, and Pleiades,
and the [chambers/constellations] of the south[ern sky].

Job 9 Commentary | Catch-All

And, finally, if there’s anything else wise or strong that God does, Job just throws in this kind of catch-all in verse 10.

9:10 Which doeth great things [past finding out/unfathomable];
yea, and [wonders/wondrous works] without number.

And I think that Job gets so close to figuring out how to deal with his suffering in light of God’s strength here. Job recognizes that God’s ways are past finding out. There are some things we just simply will never understand about how God works. And that’s exactly how Job eventually thinks at the end of this book.

And yet, Job still needs to make the leap from recognizing that God does wonderful and great things that no one can understand… to accepting the fact that sometimes God does painful and discouraging things – that again, no one can understand.

Job 9 Commentary | Wants a Hearing

And so, Job goes on in the next several verses to despair of ever getting a hearing from this strong and wise God.

9:11 Lo, [if…] he goeth by me, and I see him not:
[if…] he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.

In other words, if God wants to remain invisible and inaccessible to man, he is able to do that.

Job 8 Meaning

Enjoy exploring Job 8 meaning here at ExplainingTheBook.com! You can also read our Job 8 commentary on the first ten verses of Job chapter 8.

Well, Bildad goes on and apparently starts referencing some of these pieces of ancient wisdom in verse 11.

8:11 Can the [rush/papyrus] grow up without [mire/a marsh]?
can the [flag/rushes/reeds] grow without water?

Well, no. These marsh plants need … marshes in order to grow.

OK, so far so good. These plants are in an ideal situation. Surrounded by water. What else could a plant need to survive and thrive?

Job 8 Meaning Wither

And yet, even they can wither – verse 12.

8:12 Whilst it is yet in his greenness [beginning to flower…], and not cut down [for human use…],
[yet…] it withereth [before/faster than] any other [herb/plant/grass].

So, Bildad says – even though these water plants have all the water they could need – they still can be the fastest to wither.

That doesn’t seem logical. Water should stop plants from withering. And yet, sometimes it just doesn’t.

Job 8 Meaning The Wicked

And Bildad wants to apply this very tangible picture to the lives of wicked men in verses 13 through 19.

8:13 So are the [paths/destiny] of all that forget God;
and the [hypocrite’s/godless’] hope shall perish:

So, the godless hypocrite – whom again Bildad is considering Job to be – might seem like he has everything – just like Job did. Just like the plants do that are surrounded by water.

And yet, Job is now withering. And that’s because he has forgotten God.

And I just feel like this is getting out of hand. These men came with a sincere desire to comfort and mourn with Job. And now it’s devolved into insults and charges of wickedness.

But do we think that this can’t happen to us as we counsel others? Then maybe we haven’t counseled many sufferers. We do need to watch ourselves as we seek to help others – that we don’t get dragged into this kind of name-calling when our efforts to comfort don’t seem to work.

Job 8 Meaning No Security

Well, Bildad continues speaking of the wicked who forget God in verse 14.

8:14 Whose [hope/confidence/trust] [shall be cut off/is fragile/is in something futile],
and whose [trust/security] shall be a spider’s web.

So, what the godless trust in is as strong as a spider’s web. That is, it will fail.

Job 8 Meaning House Falling

And then Bildad continues to picture the precarious position that the godless find themselves in as they try to rely on things that seem stable in this life.

8:15 He [shall lean upon/trusts in] his house,
but it [shall not stand/does not hold up]:

he shall hold it fast,
but it shall not endure.

And I just have to wonder if Bildad is speaking of Job’s children again. Because – after all – isn’t this what happened to them? They were sitting in their house and it did not stand.

Job 8 Meaning Roots

And so, Bildad continues to speak of the wicked in verse 16 where he pictures them as doing well – for a time…

8:16 He [is green/thrives] before the sun,
and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.

As if the wicked is a plant. And this plant is doing really well.

But then – he gets what he deserves! Verse 17.

8:17 His roots are wrapped about [the heap/a rock pile],
and [seeth/looks for] [the/a] place [of/among] stones.

Now, roots don’t derive nourishment from rocks. So, this is a picture of this plant going from thriving to starving.

And that’s Bildad’s contention concerning the wicked – like, he thinks, Job is. They can flourish for a time. But then – WHAMMO! God deals decisively in this life.

The ancients say this is so. And therefore, this must apply to Job. This must be the explanation for why he’s suffering. Bildad perfectly understands God’s ways! Or, so he thinks…

Job 8 Meaning Plant Motif

And Bildad continues his plant motif in verse 18 and 19.

8:18 If [he/God?] destroy him from his place,
then it [his place…] shall deny him, saying,

I have [not/never] seen thee.

So, no one will remember the plant that withers away. In fact – not even its place remembers. That’s how Bildad poetically pictures this reality.

Job 8 Meaning Replaced

And eventually this plant – that is, the wicked – will be replaced by others. Verse 19.

8:19 Behold, this is the joy of his way,
and out of the earth shall others grow.

But see – that’s how God always deals with wicked men. Destruction for their rebellion.

Job 8 Meaning The Righteous

On the other hand, God works differently with the righteous. Verse 20.

8:20 Behold, God will not cast away a [perfect/blameless] man,
neither will he help the evil doers:

8:21 [Till he/He will yet] fill thy mouth with laughing,
and thy lips with rejoicing.

So, Bildad says – Job, once you turn from your secret sins God will fill you with total joy!

Job 8 Meaning Enemies Dealt With

And he’ll deal with your enemies, even! Verse 22.

8:22 They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame;
and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.

And it’s kind of ironic that eventually it’s Bildad and his two friends that are ashamed. In a sense, by offering Job these pat answers that might call upon the wisdom of the ancients but don’t deal with the realities of Job’s life – Bildad finds himself in the position of one who “hate[s]” Job. And so, he will get the shame that comes along with that.

Job 8 Commentary

Enjoy this Job 8 commentary from your friends at ExplainingTheBook.com! You can read our explanation of Job 8 meaning of verses 11 through 22 of chapter 8 as well.

Open your Bible to Job, chapter 8. We’ll be studying the 8th chapter of the Old Testament book of Job.

We’ve been reminded throughout this book that When We Don’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom.

Job 8 Commentary Review

The first and second chapters of this book had Job go from understanding God’s ways of blessing obedience – to all of a sudden putting Job in the position where no longer did God’s ways make sense to him. He was still obedient – but instead of blessings he was given suffering. And this suffering felt like punishment for some supposed sin.

Then chapter 3 had Job open with his lament in which he wished he could die.

Eliphaz – one of Job’s friends – then responded in chapters 4 and 5 insinuating that Job had sinned and that he needs to turn from this hidden sin of his so that God will once again bless him.

Then chapters 6 and 7 last time featured Job defending himself against Eliphaz’s claims and continuing to wonder aloud why God was being so hard on him.

And that’s where we enter Job, chapter 8. Now, the second friend – Bildad – gets his turn to speak and offer his opinion as to why Job is in his predicament and how he can get out of it.

And it’s not just his own opinion that he offers. He also shows an interesting tendency to fall back on what we might call “the wisdom of the ancients.” We’ll see that as we study Job chapter 8.

We start in verse 1.

KJV Job 8:1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

8:2 How long wilt thou speak these things?
and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?

So, this is how Bildad starts. With an insult comparing Job’s words to nothing but win – and a lot of it. He’s insulting a weak and suffering – yet righteous – man.

Job 8 Commentary Impugning God?

Well, why did Bildad feel the need to insult Job? It’s because he thinks that Job is impugning God’s character – verse 3…

8:3 Doth God pervert [judgment/justice]?
or doth the Almighty pervert [justice/what is right]?

So, Bildad interprets Job’s previous defense to Eliphaz as Job’s accusing God of perverting justice. And Bildad wants to set Job straight on that point.

Job 8 Commentary Where’s Yahweh?

But before we get to that, I want to take a moment to note something I haven’t yet. As you read through this book you will see only a few references to the Hebrew covenant name of the Lord – YAHWEH – or in many Bibles it’s “the LORD” in all caps.

So many times in the book of Job you have Job and his friends speaking of God by other names. As “God” or “the Almighty” and so on.

And the reason for that is due to the setting of this book. Remember that this book was set outside of Israel – and before the Mosaic Law was given on Mount Sinai.

So, these men are not using God’s covenant name as much as you might expect. And this is why – these people aren’t Israelites and they’re living before the Old Covenant was ratified.

Job 8 Commentary Strike at Children

Alright, now, Bildad started with an insult to this one that he thinks is speaking incorrectly about God. But it gets worse. Bildad is next going to strike at Job yet again – and this time he’s bringing Job’s kids into the attack – which he hopes will disprove Job’s supposed assertion that God perverts justice. Verse 4.

8:4 If thy children have sinned against him,
[and/then] he have cast them away for their transgression;

I mean, it’s that simple. You sin, and you get immediate punishment. That’s how Bildad thinks. It’s how everyone generally thinks in this book. It doesn’t occur to Bildad that there might be an alternative explanation.

And once again I marvel at the brashness of these friends. This man lost his children. And the only comfort these guys can give is to speculate that Job’s kids sinned and that’s why God dealt with them the way he did.

And let’s take a lesson from this man. Brethren – we can be absolutely sure in matters that God has revealed explicitly. But let’s all please refrain from airing our strong opinions. Hold them to yourself. You might be right. But what we all need to do is – not to guess at explaining God’s mysterious unrevealed ways – but to trust his wisdom and help others do the same.

Job 8 Commentary Pray!

And no doubt – Bildad thinks that he’s helping Job. He’s helping Job understand God’s mysterious unrevealed ways! And so, Bildad is going to share with Job something that surely Job is missing in this whole situation. Verse 5.

8:5 [But…] If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes,
and make thy supplication [a plea for compassion…] to the Almighty;

See? It’s that easy! Job just wasn’t praying.

Oh wait… no, that’s not true. He did pray. Often. He prayed even for his children and any potential hidden sin on their part. We saw that in chapter 1 of this book.

Job 8 Commentary Do Right!

So, Bildad is wrong on this point of his remedy. Let’s see what else he suggests. Verse 6.

8:6 If thou [wert/are/become] pure and upright;
surely now he would [awake/rouse himself] for thee,
and make [the habitation of thy righteousness/your righteous habitation] prosperous. [by restoring it…]

Brilliant! Just stop sinning, Job! That would make God stop punishing you.

Oh wait, it’s not Job’s sin that’s moving God to bring suffering into Job’s life. There’s that whole matter of Satan’s questioning both Job’s self-disinterested righteousness and God’s integrity. And no one in this story knows about that part.

So, again, Bildad’s remedy is not going to help Job. In fact, Bildad plays right into the hands of Satan.

Do you know how that works?

Well, if Job takes Bildad’s advice, he would claim to have some sort of imagined sin in his life in order for God to bring back the blessings. And in that way, Job would cease doing what Satan said that he would stop doing – worshipping God “for nothing.”

Job 8 Commentary Wonderful Results

But this won’t stop Bildad. He continues by showcasing the wonderful results of what would happen if Job just simply starts praying and stops sinning! Verse 7.

8:7 Though thy beginning was [small/insignificant], [or it will seem like it at the end…]
[yet/since] thy [latter end/future] should [greatly increase/flourish].

I mean, Job’s life will resemble the US Stock Market after Donald Trump’s election – up and up and up!!!

And you know what? That does happen to Job. His end will be pleasant. But not because he confessed some imaginary unconfessed sin or started praying where he supposedly had not. Job’s life returns to blessing once he simply trusts God’s wisdom after his great and prolonged trial.

But he’s not there yet.

And so, now Job needs to endure both the suffering and these unbearable friends of his – all with no idea of why this is happening to him.

Job 8 Commentary Ancient Wisdom

Well, back to Bildad though. He’s going to bring out the big guns now. He’s going to appeal to….ready? The wisdom of the ancients! This will certainly bolster the points that he’s made thus far. Verse 8.

8:8 For enquire, I pray thee, of the [former/past] [age/generation],
and [prepare thyself/consider/pay attention] to the [search/the things searched out/findings] of their [fathers/anscestors]:

So, if Eliphaz loved to appeal to his own personal experiences to help explain for Job why he’s suffering, Bildad loves to go back to ancient wisdom.

Job 8 Commentary Commendable

And in some ways, there’s something commendable about this. Because what Bildad says in verse 9 is true…

8:9 (For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing,
because our days upon earth are a shadow:)

And that’s certainly the right way to think of ourselves. We are so momentary. Our knowledge is so limited. Our life, so short.

But the way to turn from that thought is not to go to the writings and thoughts of men who are just like us, only dead!

Ancient philosophers and other writers that are unhinged from God’s revealed truth serve very little purpose for us – even when we’re suffering.

Do you know why that is?

Job 8 Commentary Their Own Heart

It’s because of what Bildad points out in verse 10.

8:10 Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee,
and utter words out of their [heart/mind/understanding]?

And that’s all they can do. Give good advice from their heart.

But unless that heart has been affected by God’s revelation, they can speak from it all they want – but it’s not going to be very helpful for God’s people – especially when we suffer.

Who among us reaches for a Greek philosopher when we’re floundering? Who turns to the sayings of Confucius when we’re confused with life?

No, we need to trust God’s wisdom. And we find it – if it’s to be found anywhere – in God’s word.