Job Chapter 13: Job Begins to Accept His Trial

Mar 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Job, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Job Chapter 13: Job Begins to Accept His Trial

Job 13:1 Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.

Job 13:2 What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.

“Lo, mine eye hath seen all this.” What did Job’s eye see?

Comment: Job saw all of his experiences: the blessings and the trials.

Reply: His experiences were certainly part of what he had seen, but more was involved. Since verse 1 is an artificial division of the narrative, perhaps this verse should have concluded chapter 12. In other words, in his lifetime, Job had seen or heard the matters enumerated at the end of chapter 12. He was quite aware of what was going on and had noted things that were happening under God’s providence in earth’s affairs.

Comment: Job said he was not inferior to the three comforters. Thus he was commenting on what the three had spoken to him about God.

Comment: The principle is the same as when the Apostle Paul had to list his credentials. The false teachers were discounting him and his ministry, and it was necessary for him to defend his faithfulness and show his equality to the other apostles.

Reply: We would slightly soften the wording of verse 1, as follows. “Lo, all this mine eye hath seen, and mine ear hath heard and understood such things.” Not only was Job on a par with the three comforters—he was not inferior—but also he had had his own up and down experiences and had witnessed events in earth’s affairs. Thus Job was quite aware of what was going on. Therefore, what the three comforters were attempting to do with the illustrations they used was actually redundant. They were voicing things that Job already knew and thus were not of much assistance or comfort to him. He needed something else besides the lectures they were giving him.

Job 13:3 Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.

The implication is that the comforters were comfortless to Job, so he could only turn to the true source of comfort: the Almighty above. The King James translation is good—“I desire to reason with God”—whereas many other translations use the word “argue” or “debate,” which is not in harmony with Job’s nature. Even though he spoke blunt common-sense statements, he did so with a native humility that does not always come through in the translations. On the one hand, Job was in a teachable frame of mind, which the three comforters did not recognize or credit him with. And on the other hand, they were not supplying the answers and sound advice he was looking for. Considering the comforters’ lack of understanding, it would have been better for them to commiserate with Job, for at least then they would have been of some comfort. Instead they gave meaningless talk.

Job 13:4 But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.

The word translated “forgers” means those who smear the reputation of another. Thus the thought of verse 4 is something like this: “Yet, however, you are smearers of deceit; all of you are worthless physicians.”

Comment: Rotherham’s translation is similar: “For in truth ye do besmear [me] with falsehood, Worthless physicians all of you!”

Job 13:5 O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.

Comment: Proverbs 17:28 reads, “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

Job 13:6 Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.

Comment: Job was saying, “Now be quiet and listen to what I have to say.”

Reply: Yes, that would be using today’s language.

Job 13:7 Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him?

The word “wickedly” seems a little too strong. A better translation would be, “Would you on behalf of God speak unrighteously, and for him talk deceitfully?” In what way did Zophar “talk deceitfully”? Zophar (and the other two comforters) had wrong heart motives with regard to what they thought of Job. One manifestation of this wrong attitude was that they twisted the meaning of the Lord’s words. In addition, they misjudged Job and did not give him credit because they were deceived by his physical appearance.

Comment: In Job 11:5, Zophar said, “But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee.” Zophar was trying to speak for God, and now Job was saying, “If you are presuming to speak for God, are you going to do it deceitfully?”

The three were prejudiced against Job because of his appearance and current situation.

Prejudice is prejudging, which is not righteous judgment. A righteous judge carefully weighs both sides of an issue and does not make a hasty judgment.

Job 13:8 Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?

Job was asking, “Would you accept his person before the faces of God?” The Hebrew has “faces” (plural). The showbread on the Table of Showbread in the Tabernacle of Moses was the “bread of presence” or the “bread of faces”; that is, there are many facets to the judgment of God and His thinking, as brought out in the four-faced cherubim in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10.

“Will ye contend for God?” The thought seems to be, “Before the faces of God, would you show partiality? Would you, Zophar, in representing God, show respect of persons or partiality in judgment?” The questions were rhetorical, and the answer was, “Of course not!”

Incidentally, a judge, if truly impartial, should be able to be both a prosecuting attorney and a defense attorney for the same individual. A judge should inherently possess both capabilities, but unfortunately, man’s fallen nature necessitates a division of the responsibility. Therefore, a judge, a prosecuting attorney, and a defense attorney are all present in a trial in order to try to come to righteous judgment. Some Bible scholars recognize the legalistic terminology in the Book of Job and, from one perspective, the allusion to a trial and a courtroom scene.

Job 13:9 Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him?

Comment: Job was warning the three comforters to keep silent because God would hold them accountable for their words.

Reply: Yes, not only would Zophar and the other two be accountable for their critique of Job, but to have God search them out would be rather scary. Job was implying, “You had better be careful in your criticism of me because as you judge others, you will perhaps be judged by the Almighty yourself.”

Job 13:10 He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons.

Verse 10 is plainly stated except for the word “secretly.” The reference here does not seem to be about taking bribes, although those with money, power, or influence sometimes try to sway the judgment of the judge or of the jury. The thought seems to be, “If you rebuke others, surely God will rebuke you if you secretly harbor or show partiality because of the appearance of others—that is, if you are prejudicial in the criticisms that you pronounce.” And of course, as has been stated, the permission of evil was not understood, especially before the First Advent and later when the Bible became available. The general prejudicial attitude or thinking was that the person who contracted a disease had sinned. In France even today, the accused person is considered guilty until proven innocent. Here in the United States, the reverse is true: one is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Job 13:11 Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?

Q: What was Job’s disposition in uttering these words? Was he angry?

A: Here, following the last reply of Zophar, Job was rebuking the three comforters, especially Zophar, but not in a crude way. In earlier chapters (prior to chapter 11), Job was despondent, feeling the effects of his very trying crucible experience. But now, as a result of being tried in the furnace, Job’s character was beginning to crystallize, and he was becoming a little more confident that he was right. He did not know why God had permitted the experience to come upon him, but now, in chapters 12-14, he was starting to weather the storm better. Before that, Job knew he was innocent as far as any grievous sin was concerned, but he was puzzled because he could not find any serious flaw in his own character, search though he may. Of course Job realized he had the sins of Adam, but inherited weaknesses could not be the reason for his affliction. At present, he was feeling more justified in his thinking than previously.

Comment: In Job 11:6, Zophar had said, “Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.” Job’s contention or rebuke seems to be that the three thought they were speaking for God. They should have kept their opinions to themselves, but since they were demanding that Job confess his supposed sins and repent, he was saying, “If you are wrong, God’s excellency should make you afraid, for His dread will fall upon you.”

Reply: Yes, they should have weighed their critique of Job much more carefully. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us a wonderful principle to always keep in mind: “Forgive us our debts [trespasses], as we forgive our debtors [those who trespass us]” (Matt. 6:12).

Comment: A comment in a previous study said: “The reasoning of the three comforters in regard to Job was pure imagination. They brought God into their criticism of Job to justify that criticism. They were judging according to their impressions of Job, who, being a sick man in a deplorable condition, no longer looked like an upright, just, steadfast man of God. Job asked, ‘Are you not afraid to bring God into the type of judgment you are making?’”

Reply: Yes, that is true. If the mediator of two alienated parties—God on the one hand and man on the other—begins to take solely the part of God, then he is already prejudiced. He would not be a true mediator in considering all facets of the matter. A mediator is supposed to be impartial in trying to bring two alienated parties together.

A defense attorney who knows his client is definitely guilty would not want to handle the case, but he is forced to do so under the circumstances of the law today. And a prosecuting attorney  may know that the one he is prosecuting is blameless, yet it is his duty to prosecute that individual. Even in a perfect legal system, if the ones who administer the law are imperfect, as well as those being judged, the desired results will not be attained. It would take a superhuman judge, representative, and/or type of mediator to get proper and just judgment.

Job 13:12 Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.

Notice the word “remembrances.” In their arguments, the three (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) often quoted commonly used and understood maxims, proverbs, or time-honored sayings. The gist of Job’s remark was as follows. “Your sayings do not apply to my situation. We are not on the same wavelength. Under other circumstances, the advice might be apropos, but in my experience, it is not pertinent. Instead of being beneficial, helpful, and uplifting, your comments are the opposite. There is no backbone or substance to ashes. When rubbed in the hand, they smear, and the same is true of clay. All of your statements lack substance.” Job was speaking of potter’s clay, that is, clay before it is molded and baked.

Job 13:13 Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.

“Hold your peace” in the King James marginal reference is, “Be silent.” The three were badgering Job. Before he stopped talking, their criticism was already prepared.

Job 13:14 Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?

Job was asking, “Why do I sink my teeth in my own flesh, and put my life in jeopardy in my own hand?” A rhetorical question usually demands a definitely implied yes or no, but this question was a little different. Job wanted the three comforters to assume the attitude of being listeners to his side of the story.

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

This verse, which is quoted quite frequently by Christians, shows that Job’s character, in spite of all his afflictions, was firming up and solidifying. His character was getting more and more crystallized, even though everything around him was negative. A transformation was taking place in his inner thinking, and he was manifesting a wonderful acquiescence to God’s providences. He was saying in effect, “I do not understand why God is permitting these experiences to come upon me, but He must have a reason.” What an excellent example he was!

“But I will maintain mine own ways before him”; that is, “Surely I will reason my ways before his [God’s] face.”

Job 13:16 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Comment: Based on verses 15 and 16, Job was saying that he would continue to do what he had been doing, for if he changed now, he would be a hypocrite.

Reply: Yes, and Job knew he was not a hypocrite because he had searched his heart. The New Testament tells us to examine ourselves from time to time and to make an appraisal of how we are doing. We should set ourselves aside and review our life and the sincerity of our intent, for all will come before the judgment seat of Christ. We should not judge ourselves in comparison to others, however, but should examine ourselves to see whether or not we are going forward and making progress in zeal and love for the truth. Such examination helps us to be on guard.

In reasoning on his past as a judge in the gate, Job knew that his motives had been pure, well-intentioned, and not in any sense false. He knew he was not a hypocrite and said that God would be his salvation, his deliverance.

Comment: Job had heard the reasoning of the three comforters, and now he was saying, “Go away, all of you. Let God kill me, but I will appeal directly to Him.”

Job 13:17 Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.

Job 13:18 Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.

Job was swinging over to a positive side, or attitude, from his former negative, despondent feelings. He was saying, “I have now set my case in order, and I know I will be vindicated [justified].”

Evidently, God will choose for the Little Flock those who, as they develop in maturity, are able to be tried more and more severely and yet continue to make progress. A study of Jesus’ life reveals his development and wonderful progress.

Job 13:19 Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost.

The King James is quite different from the Hebrew, which reads, “Who now can bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent; I will willingly die.” Verse 19 concludes Job’s remarks in rebuttal to the charges of Zophar in chapter 11. As we continue through the Book of Job, we will see that Eliphaz and Bildad each spoke three times against Job, and Zophar spoke twice. Thus a long interchange of thoughts went back and forth between Job and his so-called comforters, and as time went on, Job outlasted or wore out their criticisms, in spite of his pitiful condition, so that the three finally gave up. Job was getting stronger and stronger, whereas earlier he was almost ready to throw in the proverbial towel.

Job 13:20 Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.

Job 13:21 Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid.

Job 13:22 Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.

Q: In verses 20-24, was Job basically asking for something more concrete than the comforters’ circumstantial evidence of his suffering all of the calamities?

A: Yes. With verse 20, Job ceased to respond to the charges of Zophar and now turned his attention to the Creator. Therefore, the balance of chapter 13 was Job’s address to God; that is, Job was turning his attention and speaking to God alone, petitioning for a response. Of course the three comforters were listening.

Verse 21 lists the two things Job did not want God to do to him: (1) withdraw His hand and (2) make him afraid.

Moses was the next patriarch to come on the world’s stage, and verse 22 reminds us of his reasoning with God. From verse 22 to the end of the chapter, Job was addressing his complaint to God.

Job 13:23 How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.

Job made a direct query to the Lord: “How many are mine iniquities and sins?” In searching his heart, Job could not find any real transgression. Yes, he had faults but not transgressions that would warrant the type of experience he was having, with one calamity occurring right after the other and then the three comforters coming and adding to his misery. He just could not understand why God’s providence had allowed the calamities to occur without providing any relief. Job was making an honest inquiry. He had already said that if the comforters could find any substantial sin, he would willingly admit his guilt and die. But before he died, he wanted to know why he was having this experience. The philosophy of the permission of evil was not understood by Job or his predecessors to any great depth. We are blessed with that understanding, as were the disciples in the early Church when Jesus and the apostles were on hand. Between the early Church and the Harvest period, there was a dearth of understanding.

Job 13:24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?

Job was not aware that he was being directly tempted by the Adversary. Satan was in the background manipulating things, probably even putting suggestions in the minds of the comforters as to how to charge Job. Being unaware of what was happening, Job thought God must be responsible for permitting the afflictions. God was proving to the Adversary not only the inherent worth of Job, even though the latter was a fallen creature, but also that Job, in his earlier life, had merited God’s favor with wisdom, influence, and means.

Job 13:25 Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?

Being despondent and not having eaten for quite a while, Job was losing weight and becoming gaunt. In addition, his flesh was drying up like that of an older person. From Job’s dramatic perception of the situation, he was like worthless material being blown about in the wind, and the Lord was right there, chasing him. In pursuing strong questions and using figurative language, Job was trying to prod the Heavenly Father to respond. He was doing his best to get an answer of some kind, but all he got was silence.

Comment: The Heavenly Father was no doubt very much impressed by the attempts of this little “leaf,” Job.

Reply: We sometimes think of Job’s suffering, anguish, and mental torment, but when we realize the size of God and the angels, then planet Earth is nothing by comparison, as the Prophet Isaiah said, and man is less than nothing. The human race is like microbes that can think and speak and reason. Imagine a huge giant looking down at a little crumb that is reasoning with him! From that perspective, the situation is somewhat humorous.

Job 13:26 For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.

Again Job spoke about his youth, but he had reformed from his former situation with repentance and contrition, and he had made a series of vows to God, as we will see. Once he made the commitment to serve God as best he could in his imperfect flesh, he felt that from that time on, he had led a consistent life to the best of his ability in trying to serve God, and he had prayed daily with sincerity and truth in his heart. Nevertheless, he realized that prior to the commitment, he had sown some wild oats, as the saying goes.

Q: Would the remembrance of happenings in his own youth have led to his making offerings for his children (Job 1:5)?

A: That is very likely. As Job continued to expose his thinking, we are accumulating a library of information about him. We are able, to a limited extent, to put ourselves in his position.

The thought of the first part of verse 26 is, “Why do you figuratively tabulate [or enumerate] my sins?” In other words, Job was saying to God, “You are making a list of sins, but I am not hearing a response of even one charge from that list. Surely there must be something—if not one cardinal sin, then there must be a multitude of venial sins.” He was trying to provoke God into responding, but all he got was silence. Job felt he would die in a little while anyway, so while he was in this emotional frame of mind, he momentarily lost his balance. We know that he had inherent faith in God and a belief in a future resurrection, but while he was talking, he got carried away.

Job 13:27 Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet.

The thought of verse 27 is more along this line: “You put my feet in stocks, you look narrowly on my path, and you note even the footsteps that I leave behind.” Job was referring to God’s careful scrutiny of him and the straits God had put him in. There were stocks back in Job’s day.

Job 13:28 And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is motheaten.

The NIV has, “So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.” Job felt he was the one who was wasting away like a moth-eaten garment. In other words, “God, you consider me as a rotten thing that wastes away like a moth-eaten garment.”

The three comforters would have been astounded. From the top of his head to the soles of his feet, Job was a mess to behold, but out of this strange situation, the comforters heard a forceful, lucid rebuttal to their charges.

(2001-2003 Study)

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