A. Job boldly declares that he will maintain his integrity.
1. (1-6) Job’s commitment to the truth.
Moreover Job continued his discourse, and said:
“As God lives, who has taken away my justice,
And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
As long as my breath is in me,
And the breath of God in my nostrils,
My lips will not speak wickedness,
Nor my tongue utter deceit.
Far be it from me
That I should say you are right;
Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go;
My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.”
a. Moreover Job continued his discourse and said: It seems that Job waited for his friends to reply – it was, after all, Zophar’s turn. But they were silent, either out of weariness or frustration with Job; so Job continued.
i. “It is not that they lost the debate; rather, what they have lost is all patience with Job. They have given up on Job as a bad job. From now on their only argument will be the argument of silence, of throwing up their hands in disgust. What can you do with a man who is so pig-headed and incorrigible?” (Mason)
b. As God lives, who has taken away my justice: In the previous chapter Job praised the power of God, but he also recognized that he needed something more than the might of God. He needed rescue from the one who has made my soul bitter.
i. “Job has already appealed to God many times. Now swearing ‘by the life of God’, he uses the strongest measure possible for forcing God’s hand.” (Andersen)
ii. “The juxtaposition is jarringly ironic. Even as Job confesses his faith in the living God, he matter-of-factly accuses this God of deserting him, of leaving him in the lurch. . . . Job does not say, ‘as I live,’ but ‘as God lives,’ even though this God has hidden His face and denied him justice.” (Mason)
iii. “He felt God had denied him justice but inconsistently still knew that somehow God was just; so he could swear by his life. This same incongruity applies also to his earlier fantasies, when with highly emotional words he viewed God as his enemy.” (Smick)
iv. Spurgeon preached a sermon on this text title A Vexed Soul Comforted, speaking to the child of God who felt that God had made their soul bitter. “Child of God, are you vexed and embittered in soul? Then, bravely accept the trial as coming from your Father, and say, ‘The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?’ ‘Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?’ Press on through the cloud which now lowers directly in your pathway; it may be with you as it was with the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, ‘they feared as they entered the cloud,’ yet in the cloud they saw their Master’s glory, and they found it good to be there.” (Spurgeon)
v. “If it be the Almighty who has troubled us, surely he can also comfort us. He that is strong to sink is also strong to save. If he be almighty to embitter, he must also be almighty to sweeten. Oh, yes, that word ‘Almighty’ cuts both ways! It makes us tremble, and so it kills our pride; but it also makes us hope, and so it slays our despair.” (Spurgeon)
c. My lips will not speak wickedness: In his bold and plain speaking to this point before his God and his friends, one might think that Job had spoken wickedness. Yet Job did not think that he had, and he insisted that he would not.
i. “He complaineth of God’s severity, but stormeth not against him. He blustereth, but he blasphemeth not.” (Trapp)
d. Far be it from me that I should say you are right: When Job protested that he would not speak wickedness, he meant it especially in the context of saying that he would not agree that his friends were right in their accusations against him.
i. “Using another formula of self-cursing, he says, ‘I’ll be damned if ever I concede that you are right!’” (Andersen)
2. (7-10) The vain hope of the hypocrite.
“May my enemy be like the wicked,
And he who rises up against me like the unrighteous.
For what is the hope of the hypocrite,
Though he may gain much, If God takes away his life?
Will God hear his cry
When trouble comes upon him?
Will he delight himself in the Almighty?
Will he always call on God?”
a. May my enemy be like the wicked: Here Job, in rather strong terms, is asking for the same punishment his friends think he deserves to be put upon their own heads, because of their false accusations.
i. “In Israelite law the penalty for malicious prosecution of the innocent was the punishment attached to the crime wrongly charged. Hence Job’s repudiation of the charges with the oath, ‘Let my hater be treated as the wicked person he untruthfully says I am.’” (Andersen)
b. For what is the hope of the hypocrite: Job was accused by his friends of being a hypocrite; of clinging to hidden sin instead of confessing and repenting. Here Job agreed that the hope of the hypocrite was vain.
c. Will God hear his cry . . . Will he always call on God? Job was in a difficult situation before his friends. He agreed that God did not hear the cry of the hypocrite, but he had to endure his own season of silence from God. Job could comfort himself in the understanding that he did in fact call on God as a hypocrite would not.
i. A sure sign of the hypocrite is that he will not always call on God. “He may by his afflictions be driven to prayer; but if God doth not speedily answer him, he falls into despair, and neglect of God and of prayer; whereas I constantly continue in prayer, notwithstanding the grievousness and the long continuance of my calamities.” (Poole)
B. Job agrees that God will judge the wicked.
1. (11-12) A short rebuke of Job’s friends.
“I will teach you about the hand of God;
What is with the Almighty I will not conceal.
Surely all of you have seen it;
Why then do you behave with complete nonsense?”
a. I will teach you about the hand of God: Job was deeply frustrated at the lack of understanding from his friends. They knew certain principles about God and His way in the world, but they misapplied those principles to Job’s situation.
i. “Job was saying, ‘Must I teach you about God’s power to punish? Indeed, I could never conceal from you a subject on which you have expounded at length.’” (Smick)
b. Why then do you behave with complete nonsense? Job’s friends claimed to know God and his ways, yet they analyzed Job’s crisis in a nonsensical way.
i. “Summoning all the strength of his faith, he declared that he would teach his opponents ‘concerning the hand of God,’ and he now practically took hold of all that they had said about God’s visitation on the wicked, and hurled it back on them as an anathema.” (Morgan)
2. (13-23) The portion of the wicked man.
“This is the portion of a wicked man with God,
And the heritage of oppressors, received from the Almighty:
If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword;
And his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.
Those who survive him shall be buried in death,
And their widows shall not weep,
Though he heaps up silver like dust,
And piles up clothing like clay;
He may pile it up, but the just will wear it,
And the innocent will divide the silver.
He builds his house like a moth,
Like a booth which a watchman makes.
The rich man will lie down,
But not be gathered up;
He opens his eyes,
And he is no more.
Terrors overtake him like a flood;
A tempest steals him away in the night.
The east wind carries him away, and he is gone;
It sweeps him out of his place.
It hurls against him and does not spare;
He flees desperately from its power.
Men shall clap their hands at him,
And shall hiss him out of his place.”
a. This is the portion of the wicked man with God: In this section Job argued strongly – as strongly as any of his three friends – that judgment awaits the wicked man, and that he will not be ultimately blessed. This was an important argument for Job to make in front of his friends, because they accused him of overturning God’s moral order in the world. Job insists that he agreed (in general) with the idea that wickedness is rewarded with judgment from God (received from the Almighty).
i. “Hence his prediction of the judgment on the godless is not a belated conversion to his friends’ point of view . . . Since Job nowhere denies the justice of God, it is not inconsistent for him to affirm it here. The disagreement between Job and his friends is not over whether God is just or not; it is over how the justice of God is seen to work out in particular events, and specifically in Job’s experiences.” (Andersen)
b. If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword . . . Terrors overtake him like a flood . . . The east wind carries him away . . . Me shall clap their hands at him: This description of the bitter portion of the wicked man includes many aspects that applied to Job and his own crisis. It should not be taken as an admission of guilt; instead Job’s idea was “I know that my situation looks like the judgment of God on the wicked, yet I assure you that it is not.”
i. “As a moth; which settleth itself in a garment, but is quickly and unexpectedly brushed off, and dispossessed of its dwelling, and crushed to death.” (Poole)
ii. “God shall kick him off the stage of the world, and then men shall clap and hiss at him in sign of detestation.” (Trapp)
iii. “It seems it was an ancient method to clap the hands against and hiss a man from any public office, who had acted improperly in it. The populace, in European countries, express their disapprobation of public characters who have not pleased them in the same manner to the present day, by hisses, groans, and the like.” (Clarke)
© 2007 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission