Job Chapter 9: Job’s Reply to Bildad, ConstellationsFeb 4th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Job, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Job Chapter 9: Job’s Reply to Bildad, Constellations
Job 9:1 Then Job answered and said,
Job 9:2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
Job agreed with the concluding remarks of Bildad, but he was still confused about his circumstance. He admitted that God would not cast away a perfect man to destruction, but then in the next breath, he asked, “How can a man be perfect in God’s eyes?”
Job 9:3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
Job knew that if he were a defendant before a court of law with God as the prosecuting attorney, he would lose his case, even though he was convinced of his relative innocence. He could not really reason with God and give specific particulars in defense of his integrity (although he tried to do that a little later).
Incidentally, when the scribes and Pharisees tried to reason with and trap Jesus, his wisdom was so superior that in the end, they were embarrassed. Jesus was always able to give a rebuttal to the sarcasm and criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, and they went away ashamed, relatively speaking.
Job 9:4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
The Pastor explained about the four cardinal attributes of God: love, power, wisdom, and justice. Job recognized two of the attributes as being supreme: wisdom and power. He agreed that God had the other two attributes but could not understand them. Job could see God’s power and wisdom in nature, but love and justice were a problem to him.
We are very blessed here at the end of the Harvest, as were the early Christians during the Apostle Paul’s ministry, to have a tremendous amount of understanding of Scripture. Many questions that ordinarily would be stumbling blocks and hindrances to the development of faith have been removed for us. Therefore, the test today in being able to stand is along a different line from the testing during the Dark Ages.
Job 9:5 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger.
God “removeth the mountains, and they [the mountains] know [it] not.” Mountains are removed through an earthquake and/or a volcanic eruption. An area that has been stable for many years can suddenly be affected by an earthquake. Today seismic equipment predicts earthquakes, but down through history, most earthquakes were sudden and unexpected. The shaking may last only a few seconds or minutes, even though there were tremors not perceived by normal human sense. Here Job was speaking of a violent earthquake, such as the sudden explosion of a volcano, “which overturneth them in his [God’s] anger.” Previously there was no perception of an impending problem.
Job was describing his own experience. He was prosperous with goods, livestock, wealth, family, and reputation, and all of a sudden, in the same day, he was bereft of everything except his wife. Job’s personal experience was like that of a mountain which suddenly erupts without any prior indication. Job was making a truthful and consistent analysis. He did not know that he was being tried by Satan, but he could see that the suddenness of his calamities was superhuman, supernatural. Therefore, who caused the calamities? He concluded that God must have given His assent.
Job 9:6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
Job 9:7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
God “shaketh the earth out of her place” and “commandeth the sun, and it riseth not.” In other words, God’s power is such that if He did not want the sun to come up, it would not do so.
Everything is under His control. Therefore, when sudden catastrophe came upon Job, who did not know about the permission of evil in the sense of character development and perfection for a future office, he could only conclude that God knew about the calamities and did not prevent them from happening. When an earthquake occurs, there is a reason for it; that is, conditions underneath the surface of the earth cause an earthquake to come forth suddenly. Job was very, very puzzled over his personal catastrophe, for God knew about the situation, and Job could not harmonize the two points. He was giving an honest appraisal of the providence that had occurred to him. His wisdom was such that it could not have happened without God’s knowledge. Job was questioning, “Why?” God “sealeth up the stars.”
Comment: The fact God named all of the stars indicates they are all accounted for (Psa. 147:4).
Reply: Yes, the title “LORD of hosts” pertains to the galaxies, although of course God is the Emperor of all things: the spiritual realm, the earthly realm, the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the stars, etc.
Genesis 2:1 reads, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” This text is usually applied to earth’s solar system, but it seems to pertain to other galaxies as well.
The other galaxies are much further developed than science would lead us to believe. In other words, they are all relatively finished. We believe that Genesis 2:1 includes the whole galactic system. What man has observed through telescopes of occurrences in the heavens actually took place in the very, very distant past and has nothing whatever to do with the current condition of the heavens. We are living much later, and a lot has happened subsequent to what is now observable by the Hubble telescope. Therefore, we think the stars have been fixed, and the minimum amount would be comparable to when the Lord started to order the surface of earth. At that time, a chaotic condition and waters prevailed over the surface of the earth, and then began the Seven Days of Creation. We believe that all of the planets in other solar systems are developed at least to this minimum situation, and water does not necessarily have to cover the whole surface of the planets as it did with the earth prior to the Seven Creative Days. We cannot judge the degree of development by the moon and the other planets in our solar system, which are relatively barren, because we do not believe they were ever intended for habitation. Only the earth was meant to be inhabited in our particular solar system. In the other solar systems as well, only one of the planets may be especially intended for habitation, although we would not rule out that there could be several planets.
For emphasis, we will repeat an important point. What we observe in the heavens now actually occurred in the far, far distant past, and we are completely unaware of what has happened subsequently—say, hundreds of thousands of years later.
Comment: The average astronomer’s professional career spans perhaps 40 years, which is nothing time-wise in comparison to the activity that has transpired in the heavens because the light or information has not reached the earth yet.
Reply: Yes, that is right, for the information is still en route. Just this past week some seriously questioned the theory of global warming, which is based on reasoning with present data. Global warming and global freezing periods have occurred in past ages. Scientists say that the average global temperature has increased one degree in the last ten years, but in reality, that observation is minuscule, for man is very limited in his observations and education.
Q: Does the word “sealeth” in verse 7 have the thought of “finished”?
A: Yes, the stars were finished up to or for a certain purpose and then put on hold until the Kingdom Age is completed. This subject is tremendous, but we will use one more suggestion. The fact that Jehovah has rested from all of His physical creative works suggests that He is finished with that work (Gen. 2:2). However, He is very active doing work in other fields of endeavor, such as with the New Creation. Pertaining to just the earth, each Creative Day usually ended with a work accomplished, but the same principle would apply to works that God did previously; that is, He has rested with those works too.
Comment: The Hebrew word translated “sealeth” is chatham, which, according to Young’s Analytical Concordance, has the thought of “finish.”
Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
Verse 8 is one of at least 50 Scriptures in the Old Testament showing that God did the creating, not Jesus. God alone spread out the heavens.
We do not know how long God was alone before He started to create other sentient beings. Genesis 1:1,2 says, “In a beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep [the waters].” But how long the earth was in that condition we do not know. We believe that the physical realm of the galaxies, etc., goes back almost to eternity. A lot happened when God was alone, for certainly He was not just sitting in a chair meditating. God exists from infinity to infinity, and He was doing things—but what, when, and where He was doing are the question marks.
Q: Is verse 8 speaking in the sense of the entire cosmos and not just our little heavens and earth down here?
A: That is exactly what we have been saying.
Q: What is the thought of “spreadeth out”?
A: God spread out the heavens like a carpet, and not like a three-dimensional ball.
God “treadeth upon the waves of the sea.” In other words, He has complete mastery over the wildest of the elements.
Q: Is there a similarity to Genesis 1:2, which says that God’s Spirit hovered over the face of the waters?
A: In principle, yes.
In saying He “treadeth upon the waves of the sea,” God is talking to our finite minds. Some have suggested, properly we think, that God commanded the oceans, whose surface is slightly higher than the land or shore portion of the continents. In other words, a force holds back the proud waves lest they overlap the land inordinately in disobedience to the command of the Heavenly Father that they be restricted to the beds in which they were deposited. The seas cannot go beyond certain boundaries. We see this principle in science even with a drop of water, for a sort of cohesive quality exists on the surface of the water, causing the water to cling, even though we do not normally notice the tendency. For instance, if we delicately fill a sharp-edged glass with water, the water will go a tiny bit higher than the edge before it spills over, but we need a microscope to observe that phenomenon. However, with oceans, which are a larger perspective, we can see the tidal system, that is, the high and low tides. If Jehovah can walk on the wings of the wind, if He can walk on the clouds as if they were a carpet, then certainly He can walk on water, which has more mass than a cloud (2 Sam. 22:11; Psa. 18:10; 104:3).
In summary, therefore, verse 8 is saying that Jehovah has complete, absolute control, and nothing can happen haphazardly to catch Him unawares. His control assures that everything will abide by His ordinances.
The King James margin indicates Job was speaking about the height and the tempestuousness of the sea, as noticed especially by those who are in a boat during a rough storm. The waves are higher than the boat. Job was not speaking of a placid sea but was saying that God’s control is so masterful that He can walk smoothly on a tempestuous sea with its wild ups and downs and not have the least disturbance.
Comment: We often think of the effect the moon has on the sea and on tides, so perhaps in verses 7-10, Job was connecting the celestial bodies with the waves of the sea down here.
Reply: Yes, Job was making a comparison. The same principle applied.
Job 9:9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
Job mentioned four things: Arcturus (the Great Bear), Orion, Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. For these constellations, the King James margin gives the Hebrew: Ash, Cesil, and Cimah, respectively. The Pleiades has seven major stars, but there are perhaps a total of a million stars within that one constellation.
Comment: Since Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades are all northern constellations, verse 9 is being all inclusive by mentioning the chambers of the south. Job was saying that God made all of the constellations, both the northern and the southern ones.
The term “chambers of the south” pertains to constellations that are not seen in the Northern Hemisphere, but people in ancient times, in Job’s day, knew of their existence because of the stars that appeared at times on the horizon. (Of course today we can see the southern constellations from observatories that are located in various places around the earth: India, China, etc.). By extrapolation, people of that day could imagine that the few stars they saw were like the tip of an iceberg, and they felt that other constellations existed, even though they could not see beyond the horizon. Job tells us that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing,” that God sits upon a sphere (Job 26:7). To a certain degree through extrapolation, the ancients did not see the earth as flat, even though the great bulk of science and mankind in general thought otherwise in the Middle Ages. At that later time, most people were not given to thinking on deep matters, for other problems occupied their time and attention. In Job’s day, the nomadic tribes had plenty of time in the desert to observe the stars and the heavens, but as civilizations and nations grew, that ability became more and more limited until the days of Galileo and others, when telescopes were invented. Today, in spite of the lights of civilization, telescopes and other aids enable man to see a great deal more than the ancients, but the ancients could see a lot more than others for thousands of years afterward. Job lived in approximately 2000 BC, and we are living 2,000 years AD, so there is a 4,000-year differential between his day and our day. But only the last 200 years or so has astronomy come into a new realm of understanding, advanced thinking, and observation. Between Job’s day and the last 200 years, there came more and more darkness of understanding, especially as the AD era approached.
The point is that Job was aware of these constellations, and in observing them, the ancients imagined figures in the sky so that the constellations were identifiable. However, while Job was aware of these constellations, he was not aware that God was listening very attentively to his remarks. We know this to be a fact because in Job chapter 38, God mentioned these same constellations and elaborated on them, giving information Job was not aware of. For instance, God mentioned the “sweet influences of Pleiades” and the terrific wildness of the constellation Orion (Job 38:31). What seem to be wandering stars in Orion are indeed under complete control. Stated another way, the stars of Orion seem to be at variance with the laws of the celestial realm, but they are not. Lord willing, when we come to chapter 38, we will discuss this aspect of Orion further and also try to give a spiritual application to the constellations.
It is interesting that Amos 5:8 mentions the Pleiades and Orion: “Seek him [God] that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.” Obviously, some of the people in Old Testament times were thinkers but not the average public, who were more or less engrossed in satisfying the pleasures of the flesh in one fashion or another.
The chambers of the south, whose existence Job could perceive, were a fragment of the signs of the zodiac. Of the 12 constellations comprising the zodiac, Job used personalized names, as it were, for three of them: Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades. Some of the 12 signs are in the Southern Hemisphere.
Job 9:10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
With his limited observation in the clear sky, free of the pollution of today, Job could see so many stars that he could not number them. He knew that what he could observe in the Northern Hemisphere was only a fragment of the whole. Hence he was saying that the wonders were beyond imagination. As time goes on and we learn more and more about the galaxies, we realize that they are becoming more and more innumerable.
Job 9:11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.
This verse reminds us of something Eliphaz mentioned in his first speech. He related a strange experience in which a shadow passed by him, causing him to feel sort of a chill and the hair on his scalp to rise (Job 4:12-21). Then a spirit being spoke to him about experiences in the netherworld. Eliphaz tried to apply the principles of that experience and advice to Job’s situation. Moreover, Eliphaz claimed the experience had given him superior wisdom. Now Job was speaking similarly in saying that God could pass right by him, and he would not even know it. In other words, Job was saying, “God moves mountains with earthquakes. Man does not see Him doing this, but the effects of His great power are seen. God, who originally made the heavens, can stop the sun and hide the stars. Why, He could go right by me, and I would not even know it.”
We are also reminded of the advice Jesus gave to Nicodemus about the wind. Jesus said (paraphrased), “The wind goeth where it listeth. We do not see the wind, but we see its effects” (John 3:8).
Job 9:12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
Job certainly had this experience where things were taken away from him, but he did not know about Satan’s part in the testing. Therefore, he could only attribute the calamities he was experiencing to the fact that God had permitted them. He did not know that his reaction was to be a demonstration of his faith and the constancy of his reverence for Jehovah. Job was in the dark in regard to the reason for his trial, and we can understand his experience to a certain extent.
This portion (chapter 9) of Job’s remarks was the low in his career, that is, where he questioned God and was on the brink of teetering. Job’s words help us to see how God permits experiences to come on His people. The type of test that Job had was also experienced by Abraham and Jesus—and it also happens to all who are very elect in God’s sight. Not everyone has such testing because many are not capable of handling even the beginning of the experience. Consider what Job went through before he got to this point. Many of the Lord’s people do not have such trials because they prove to be of Great Company material. The very elect of both the Old and the New Testaments get excruciating experiences to test their faith; that is, the same principle applies to both classes. Here Job was undergoing his Gethsemane experience, and he was at his low period. When Job speaks in a later chapter, we will see him beginning to emerge as a wonderful fixed character; he was coming out of this experience for the good. Now he was in the furnace, just as the clay pot is put in the kiln to harden its surface.
He was a wonderful character to start with. In God’s sight, there was no one else like him in the earth. Job was somewhat like Moses, who was described as the meekest man in all the earth, but Job was not yet crystallized to the extent that God desired for usefulness in His service in the Kingdom Age and beyond (Num. 12:3). We think that in the distant future, wonderful things will be done for Job, Moses, Abraham, and other faithful ones of the past who do not get the divine nature.
Comment: Back in Job 1:21, Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” It seems that at the beginning, Job had an understanding, but as time went by, he had opportunity to start questioning. When the calamities first occurred, he accepted them with no problem, but as time passed and he reflected on the situation and the comforters started to speak, he came to the point where he was now starting to question.
Reply: Yes, innately Job was a wonderful character. A later chapter will reveal some of the extraordinary things he had done before the calamities occurred, but he was not yet crystallized at this point. Now he was in the furnace. In Gethsemane, God’s hand was heavy on Jesus, in fact, almost to the breaking point, so that he said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:38). On the Cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Such excruciating experiences occur at the extremity of one’s testing. After that crucial period, Jesus got the feeling that he had done all he could, and he ended up with a triumphant cry, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Such examples in Scripture indicate that anyone who gets the divine nature must have a test somewhat along this line to the extent that he is able to contain it. Of course not all will be tested to the same degree of severity, but the test will seem just as severe according to the capabilities of the individual. Severe testing is a necessity for those who make their calling and election sure.
It is true that Job was now beginning to question the reasons for his experience, and this was a test of patient endurance. As the Apostle Paul said, “Having done all, [we are] to stand” (Eph. 6:13). The last test of the Christian is patience. The Heavenly Father is called “the God of [all] patience,” and we can imagine His patience in witnessing and intently watching the severe testing of His people (Rom. 15:5). We think He is particularly focused on His children at that critical moment in their life.
Job’s questions and/or statement about God in verse 12 is correct: “He taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?” There was a nobility in Job’s expression in that he realized God’s greatness. While we cannot fathom why God permits certain experiences to come into our lives, if we realize His greatness, we must trust Him that certainly they are for our good.
Job 9:13 If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.
Who were the “proud helpers”? They were the three comforters. Job recognized the necessity for stooping under God, for prostrating himself before God. Even though he did not know the reason for his experience, he realized that in humility, he must acquiesce and submit to God’s greatness in every way.
Now he was telling his comforters of the necessity for their pride to be humbled. In the very nature of their advice to “comfort” Job, they unconsciously took a superior attitude; that is, they presumed themselves to be superior to Job. An air of superiority was apparent in the mode, manner, and spirit in which they tendered their instruction to him. Therefore, Job was more or less saying that they would have the same experience: “You cannot understand why I am having this experience. Do not be surprised if you get an experience along the same line in order to humble you for your attitude in trying to comfort me.”
Comment: The NIV reads, “God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.”
Reply: “Rahab” is mysterious nomenclature that is usually attributed to Egypt, but the thought here is quite different. Of course this “Rahab” has nothing to do with Rahab the harlot. Rather, the term in the literal Hebrew refers to a mysterious personage, specifically to the Adversary himself.
Comment: For the term “proud helpers,” the King James margin says that the Hebrew means “helpers of pride or strength.”
Reply: Yes. Of course the Adversary is the chief one of pride. We were just going into the history of the word “Rahab,” but the word, as used here in verse 13, applies more to principles than to personages. Nevertheless, it is interesting to know about the personage in the sense that Satan is the epitome of that which is contrary to everything God is looking for in his people. God desires them to have the spirit of Jesus, rather than that of the Adversary, which is one of pride and self-esteem. Verse 13 is referring to the pride and self-esteem of the three comforters, and these characteristics had to be removed if they were to gain life.
Job 9:14 How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?
Job was expressing faith. Faith trusts God when everything seems to be the opposite. Faith cannot grow unless it is tested by doubt, for faith is drawn out of a person. Faith grows,
receives exercise, and develops when the climate of doubt comes into one’s environment. It is strengthened if it responds in a proper mode when doubt appears. Job did not know why God was permitting his suffering, but the experience was excruciatingly drawing out the quality of faith and developing it. A similar situation was the importunate widow who continually went before the judge with her problem (Luke 18:2-5). After a while, she was such a nuisance and a pest that he granted her desire. In this parable, Jesus was giving an example of how faith develops.
When doubt comes, many people fail to stand the test. Such a failure becomes critical in their life, for they usually go astray subsequently. We believe, however, that God does not test everyone alike because He realizes many do not have the material to start with; that is, He does not want to test an individual above that which he is able. Therefore, most do not overcome sufficiently to become of the very elect class. In His kindness, they get life in the Great Company, but they are spared this particular severe test of faith. The trial of our faith is much more precious than gold that perishes (1 Pet. 1:7). The word “trial” in that context means “proof”; that is, the proof of one’s faith is more precious than fine gold. The trial itself is very, very precious, but to pass that test faithfully is a wonderful blessing—it far surpasses anything that this world could offer.
Here Job was in the crucible with the heat turned up. As we will see later, this testing would bring out what a wonderful individual he was. In fact, God mentioned Job, Noah, and Daniel as being exceptional (Ezek. 14:14,20).
“How much less shall I answer him [God], and choose out my words to reason with him?” Job was saying that he would never win any argument or reasoning with the Lord. After all, God is our Creator, so we have to trust that He has a good reason for allowing every experience.
Job 9:15 Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge.
In the past, as some have noted in the Hebrew, the language Job was now beginning to use was more like that in the judicial system of his day. He was speaking in a legal fashion, as though a court case were going on with a judge, a claimant, and a defendant. Job said, “Even if I were righteous (which I am not), I would not answer, but I would make my supplication to my judge” (paraphrase). In other words, Job did not know why he was having these experiences, and he wanted to know the reason. He would like to go to court, before the bar of justice with God Himself, so that he could receive satisfaction. He knew that he was not perfect but felt that he was perfect in his intentions to serve God, and he did not want to waver in that regard. He wanted to hold fast to the conviction of his faith that he tried to do his best and that he was not disloyal in any sense. However, although he would like to make supplication to his judge, he felt, as time went on, that he could not plead his cause before the Almighty.
Job 9:16 If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.
The pronoun “he” refers to God. What was Job saying in effect? If seven wise men were talking on this subject, there would probably be seven different answers. The turmoil of conflict residual in Job’s soul was very deep. As will be admitted later on, he was utterly confused about his situation.
Comment: If Job had received an answer immediately, the answer might have been taken for granted. The fact that he had to wait, and then, by the Lord’s grace, get an answer later caused him to appreciate the answer ever so much more. As time passes and an answer does not come, doubt enters the mind. The questions start to come: Has the Lord deserted me? Am I not pleasing Him? Then the understanding, when it does come, is so much more precious. Paul had that experience. He asked three times before the answer came, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Reply: Sometimes in our experiences, we have darkness in the daytime and see worlds of light at night, figuratively speaking. When we are properly exercised by our trials, they become treasured experiences we will never forget because we successfully surmounted them. However, Job was still in the trial phase here, in the furnace.
Q: Verse 16 brings two thoughts to mind. (1) Was Job saying he did not believe God would answer him because of the punishment he seemed to be getting? (2) Or was Job saying he did not believe God would hearken to his petition in asking why he was having the experiences?
A: Job certainly viewed God as being vastly superior in wisdom and power. He felt that even if he pleaded his cause, he would end up defeated because he could not reason with the great Creator Himself. If he tried, he would fumble for words, but regardless, he was yearning for an answer. However, he did not feel capable or worthy of formalizing his question. Scriptures are sprinkled in the Old Testament somewhat along this line. For example, in his experience with the seraphim, Isaiah felt he was a man of unclean lips, whereas he was the opposite in his daily living (Isa. 6:5). The presence of the holiness and righteousness of God was so overwhelming that Job was at a loss for words, yet he wanted an answer. He wanted to make his supplication to his judge, but he was afraid to do so. Job felt there was a reason for the delayed answer, but he could not fathom it.
Comment: Job did not know what he had done wrong, but he felt that he could not reason with God because God knows everything.
Job 9:17 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
Job felt he was receiving the “wounds without cause,” but actually, there was a reason for his suffering. Remember, this was the low point of Job’s experience. He being tested by the Adversary. And God wanted the Adversary to be convicted of the fact that Job was not righteous just because of all his temporal blessings but that Job truly was a very noble person who wanted to serve Him in deed and in truth and not because of any fleshly reward or prosperity. Again we refer to his earlier words: “I was naked when I came into the world, and I am naked going out. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21 paraphrase). To be able to say such words under his dire circumstances would seem like the climax of faithfulness, but the Lord’s hand was still pressing down on Job in spite of that wonderful profession. The entire experience was for Job’s eternal benefit, and he will receive a greater reward because, as we shall see, he even went beyond this statement. Job’s resignation to the divine will was shown, yet he desperately wanted an answer.
What happened later on is that almost subconsciously, he began to think on subjects he had never considered before—and with great depth. As time went on, he began to understand the reason even without being told. He asked why, why, why, but after a while, little by little, he began to understand, and he came out of the experience wonderfully.
Job 9:18 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.
Job 9:19 If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?
Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
Job 9:21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.
Verses 18-21 continue the theme of being in court with Job’s use of legal terms. Hebrew scholars do not fully grasp the terms. We will find out in later chapters that Job had almost a supernatural wisdom on some subjects. We got a smattering of that wisdom with his mention of Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, but subsequently he went into different realms almost like Solomon. Indirectly we will find out what type of man he was prior to his sufferings.
Suppose we were in court and the one finding fault with us was God. In searching our heart, we could feel that we had truly wanted to serve God with all our heart, soul, and strength and that we had done the best we could. But when God would appear in court, we would be stammering so much that as we went to testify to profess our innocence, out of our mouth would come the words, “I’m guilty! I am sorry for what I did! I didn’t mean it!” Job was saying, “God is so awesome, and who am I? How could I stand before One with such power, strength, and wisdom? I would be a stammering fool no matter what I felt.”
Meanwhile, the comforters were listening, and Job’s words had an effect on them. As time went on, they began to see there was something about Job that they themselves inherently lacked, but it took a long time for them to be convicted of this fact.
“If I [attempt to] justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” Job was saying he would condemn himself. At first, he wanted the matter to be resolved in a court case, but the more he thought about it, the more he felt his thinking was foolish. “If God did come before the court and I tried to plead my cause, I would be an utter idiot. I would convict myself.”
In an early chapter of the First Volume, the Pastor mentioned that when we are searching for the Creator and information as to what we are, what the future holds, who made us, and where we are going, one of the things we should realize is that we are created beings and subjects of a great Emperor. Therefore, God must be the epitome of wisdom, justice, love and power. As His creatures, we can be only a feeble representation of those qualities. Therefore, in our questioning mode and search for truth, if we see that God has created us and that there seems to be some purpose or plan in nature, we should have humility of heart and be in a meek attitude of waiting for information. If we are sincere, we should anticipate being rewarded for our search. These principles of natural faith are wonderful, but natural faith can go up to a higher clime with experiences such as Job was having and such as Christians have in the Gospel Age. When natural faith is tried and we are rightly exercised, that natural faith goes to a much higher level.
“Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life [if I were in the presence of God].” Job realized the greatness of the Heavenly Father. At first, he wanted someone to plead his cause, but on second thought, he felt to do so would be fruitless.
Comment: In verse 18, the word “bitterness” is actually in the plural in the Hebrew, and “bitternesses” would mean the hard trials he was going through.
Job 9:22 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
Job’s words would not have been quite as brusque as they sound. He was just observing that in life, calamities come on both the righteous and the wicked. In contrast, the two comforters who had spoken thus far felt that Job’s experiences must be the result of his having done something wrong. In other words, Job was not talking with bitterness. However, he was puzzled as to why calamities come on the righteously inclined. The more Job thought on this situation, the more he would subsequently begin to see that there was a reason for the experiences. He was getting nearer to the point of this realization.
Job 9:23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
The RSV reads, “When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.” The NIV is similar: “When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent.” This verse is difficult to understand.
Comment: Job was not talking about God but about the scourge itself. Figuratively speaking, the scourge was laughing at the trial.
Comment: Changing the pronoun from “he” to “it,” which we have the liberty to do in English, helps the meaning.
Job 9:24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?
An experienced observer of the affairs of life saw that the so-called judges were amenable to bribes and favoritism. To a large extent, family interests perverted the judgment of the courts. Also, the judges were influenced by personal prejudices. Generally speaking, it was difficult for one who was seeking redress to get satisfaction in the courts because of various perversions of justice such as favoritism to the rich, family influence, and personal prejudices against the poor. The Prophet Malachi spoke similarly. The present condition is quite different from the future, when the Kingdom is established.
“If not, where, and who is he?” The NIV reads, “When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?” The RSV reads, “The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covers the faces of its judges—if it is not he, who then is it?”
Comment: It helps to reverse the wording: “Blindfolded judges give the land into the hands of the wicked.” In the back of his mind in his questioning mode, Job could not fathom God’s reason for permitting injustice to prevail. We are so blessed to have the Harvest message, which tells us not only the philosophy of the Ransom but also the reason for the permission of evil. Job gradually came to a certain degree of understanding of the permission of evil but not to the extent that we have been privileged to understand here at the end of the Gospel Age. Therefore, our tests should be proportionately severe according to what we are capable of enduring. Hopefully, by God’s grace, we grow stronger and stronger in the truth and in faithfulness so that we can endure more for the Lord’s sake. We pray for the inner strength that He can supply, and not for our own strength, which would certainly result in failure.
Comment: It seems that Job, at this point, was starting to figure out that evil does not come from God.
Reply: On the one hand, Job could not understand that evil would come from God, but on the other hand, he still did not know the reason for the evil.
Comment: Job knew that evil existed, but he did not attribute it to God. When (in verse 23) he said that the scourge would laugh at the trial of the innocent, he knew that God would not laugh at the trial of the innocent. Then in verse 24, Job was saying that the earth is in the hands of the wicked at this time, so again, trouble and wickedness cannot be attributed to God.
Reply: Yes, Job certainly saw that evil men prevailed, generally speaking.
Comment: His comforters were trying to convince Job that he was evil.
Reply: Job was thinking, “Oh, Lord, give me an answer.” In wanting more information, he was in a crucible experience, and he was crying while the pestle was grinding. We say that the perfections of Jesus’ nature being ground in the crucible of experience brought out a pure, fine incense that was a sweet savor and fragrance in the sight of God. To a very small degree, Job was having the same experience himself. He was crying in the crucible to know the reason for his calamities, but that information was being purposely withheld for his eternal welfare.
Many have trouble understanding why God allowed His dear Son to be crucified on a cross, but when we see that not only the honor and the welfare of Jesus himself but also all he will do in the future will be more and more to God’s glory, we can understand the reason for his experience. Since we are creatures of emotion, the last thing we would want is to have our son suffer, but the wisdom God has and is exercising is different from what we, by nature, would do. The last thing we would do is the best thing that could be done. In other words, the temporary permission of evil is the best and wisest thing that could have happened. The short life of the permission of evil will work out an everlasting good.
Job 9:25 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.
“Post office” and other words are related to “post.” A number of words in the Hebrew, as well as in the Latin and the Greek, have filtered down to our present language.
Comment: The RSV and the NIV have “runner” instead of “post.” Strong’s Concordance defines “post” as “to run.”
Job 9:26 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.
Verses 25 and 26 are coupled together. Job was referring to his current experience. He felt he was going downhill fast. As time went on, he did not expect to survive because the experience was so telling on his physical frame.
Job’s days “passed away as the swift ships.” The expression “swift ships” and a few other remarks are clues that Job was in Egypt at one time. Generally speaking, the ships of those days were not fast. The exception was the boats of the Nile River, which were made of reeds or papyrus and thus were light. With the wind and the current, the ancient craft did travel quickly. The Mediterranean Sea was quite different from the Nile, which flows from south to north.
Job 9:27 If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself:
Job 9:28 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.
Verses 27 and 28 would be relatively hard to understand except in the context of a court case with a plaintiff and a defendant. If the one opposite Job was God, and Job was the party doing the complaining, the contest would be overwhelmingly in favor of the One he purportedly had the complaint against.
Chapter 9 was the low point of Job’s experience, and he got perilously close to stepping over the margin. We will see in the next chapter, however, that Job began to slowly emerge victoriously from this experience. Now he was in the critical phase, but later his attitude became more fixed.
Q: In verse 27, was Job saying he was weary of the difficult experience but realized he needed to go through all of it in order to get the full benefit?
A: That will become true in the next chapter. Notice that in the first verse of chapter 10, Job did the very thing he was afraid to do at this point. “My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” Job was fearful of the outcome of the experience. He realized he was deteriorating, and now he would reveal a little more of his present emotions.
Job 9:29 If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?
Job was on the negative side of the scale. In the next chapter, he would say the same thing but on the positive side of the scale. The progression is an interesting study of crystallization of character. Here he was examining himself and was very negative in his present mode.
Job 9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
Job 9:31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
Job would be pushed in the mud, as it were, in this contest in which he was trying to debate his cause with the Almighty God. He had already said that God was beyond understanding and had illimitable and overwhelming influence and power. In the next chapter will come a radical change but not now. Job knew he was innocent, yet he was teetering.
It would be interesting to know the cleansing value of “snow water.” Of course it was cool and refreshing. The Scriptures mention the water that flows from snow-capped Mount Hermon, which, spiritually speaking, represents the truth emanating from God’s throne and coming down to us as heavenly refreshing liquid manna. In any event, from a natural standpoint, it was evidently felt at that time that snow water had a cleansing value.
If Job tried to justify himself before God, and God gave him a little push, he would fall in the ditch and be in the exact opposite situation.
Job 9:32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
The thought of a court of law continued. The Hebrew is legalistic. Job was awed not only by God’s power and wisdom but also by his own insignificance if he were to contend with God in any fashion.
Job 9:33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
A “daysman” would be an intermediary. From the simple standpoint, Job was saying that since God was on the one side, there was no possibility of a “daysman” stepping in and putting one hand on the one party and the other hand on the other party and reasoning out a satisfactory solution.
It is interesting to realize that Elihu was listening to the whole conversation from beginning to end, and later he actually assumed the role of a “daysman.” Thus there were not only the three comforters (or discomforters) but also Elihu as a silent listener in the background.
Q: Does this verse show Job’s insight into the fact that a mediator is needed between God and man?
A: Yes, Job saw the necessity for a mediator, but he did not fully understand the philosophy.
He did believe in a Messiah, however, for he said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). Job had some sort of clue, for when we listen to his whole experience, we can inferentially extrapolate certain clues, or truths, without fully knowing how much he clearly understood. The same is true of Abraham, who looked for a city that had foundations whose builder and maker was God. That statement in Hebrews 11:10 indicates Abraham had more understanding than we know from the Genesis account of his history and life. Job lived prior to the Law Covenant, before there was an explanation of sin and its different varieties. People did not feel the guilt on some matters that was felt later, after the introduction of the Law, and still later, after the gospel of Jesus at the First Advent. Now we see with more distinction the gradations and kinds of sins that we are responsible for as, let us say, just natural human beings. People could not be condemned for what they were not instructed in. Nevertheless, some extremely intelligent human beings existed both before and during Job’s time. In the Book of Job, we get a wonderful insight into God’s dealings with Job.
Job 9:34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
Job 9:35 Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me.
What was “not so” with Job at this particular period of his experience? He was not getting the assurance he desired, so he was imploring God. It is interesting that Job poured out his feelings to fellow man, whereas people usually keep such feelings to themselves. At times when Job was talking, he almost forgot the comforters entirely. He would be talking with God, as it were, and then all of a sudden come to the realization of the comforters. His talking to God and then to the comforters went in and out like waves.
Q: In the midst of difficult trials, it is often hard for us, as Christians, to reason properly. As Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Was Job saying that if the calamities were removed from him and he was in a period of calmness, he could then look back and discuss and perhaps understand better?
A: That will be particularly true in the next chapter.