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Job Defends God Against the Suspicion of Arbitrariness
v. 1. Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it, gotten the knowledge for itself, namely, concerning all that had been set forth in the last chapter regarding the wisdom and omnipotence of God.
v. 2. What ye know, the same do I know also; I am not inferior unto you; Job in no way stood behind or beneath his friends in the proper understanding of the Lord's attributes, 12:3.
v. 3. Surely I would speak to the Almighty, that is, in spite of the fact that Job had this knowledge and in view of the fact that it seemed folly to speak to his friends in their present attitude of antagonism, while they paraded their knowledge of God in order to confound Job, and I desire to reason with God, pleading with Him in defense of himself, confidently hoping for a vindication.
v. 4. But ye are forgers of lies, literally, "daubers, smearers, of lies," such as invented falsehoods to gain their ends. Ye are all physicians of no value, miserable quacks, who were entirely unfit and incapable of applying the proper remedy to the wounds of Job.
v. 5. Oh, that ye would altogether hold your peace! He would much prefer their saying nothing at all than to have them make matters worse by their bungling talk. And it should be your wisdom; they would then not only have had a higher reputation for wisdom, but would also have come nearer to the solution of Job's difficulty.
v. 6. Hear now my reasoning, his apology or defense of himself, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips, as he, in vindicating himself, brought charges against them.
v. 7. Will ye speak wickedly for God and talk deceitfully for Him? Were they really of the opinion that they must act in favor of God by telling lies and by using deceit?
v. 8. Will ye accept His person? That is, would they show preference for His countenance, partiality for His person? Will ye contend for God, acting the part of God's advocates or lawyers? Their actions seemed to indicate that such was their intention.
v. 9. Is it good that He should search you out? Did they honestly believe that it would be well with them, that they would be safe, if He would really go to the bottom of things and search out their motives? Or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock Him? Were they under the delusion that they could deceive God, hide from Him the real disposition and sentiment of their hearts?
v. 10. He will surely reprove you, most emphatically denouncing them, if ye do secretly accept persons, showing partiality, the motive driving them being not honest conviction, but selfish interest.
v. 11. Shall not His excellency, the display of God's exalted majesty, make you afraid and His dread fall upon you? The dread of God as the great Judge should have deterred them from their course of action in employing dishonest means against Him.
v. 12. Your remembrances are like unto ashes, literally, "your axioms, proverbs, or maxims are proverbs of ashes," for such they would become when God would set out to judge and punish them, your bodies to bodies of clay, their bulwarks, their breastworks, of reasoning upon which they relied would prove frail mud, altogether unreliable, incapable of resistance. Note that there is an occasional hint of the final outcome of the matter and the rebuke of Job's friends.
Job's Comfort and Prayer
v. 13. Hold your peace, let me alone, they should desist from their undeserved attacks, that I may speak, and let come on me what will, he was ready to take the consequences of his open speaking.
v. 14. Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, anxious to save his body and life at any price, and put my life in mine hand, seeking to save his soul or life by one final desperate exertion of all his strength? He had no intention of making such efforts because he did not feel himself guilty of the accusations brought against him. He still trusted in the Lord.
v. 15. Though He slay me, namely, through the disease which was now racking him, yet will I trust in Him, he would not give way to dread for the future, hopeless as it seemed; but I will maintain mine own ways before Him, namely, in proving to God the blamelessness of his life.
v. 16. He also shall be my salvation; for an hypocrite shall not come before Him; that was Job's trust, his pledge of salvation, of final victory in the trial which he was now undergoing, that an unholy person could not come before the Lord. It is the consciousness of his blamelessness which gives him the confidence to appear before God.
v. 17. Hear diligently my speech, they should listen most attentively to his declaration, and my declaration with your ears, his utterance sounding in their ears and demanding the closest application.
v. 18. Behold now, I have ordered my cause, he had prepared all the arguments for his side of the case. I know that I shall be justified, finally be given right in this long trial.
v. 19. Who is he that will plead with me, contending with him, successfully attempting to prove him to be wrong? For now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost, if anyone should succeed in fastening guilt upon him, he would be silent and let death come as a merited punishment.
v. 20. Only do not two things unto me, those mentioned in the next verse, calamities and terror; then will I not hide myself from Thee, rather standing forth boldly to maintain his cause.
v. 21. Withdraw Thine hand far from me, keeping from Job the heavy chastisements under whose burden he was groaning; and let not Thy dread make me afraid, namely, the dread produced by the revelation of His majesty; for these two factors would take the heart from him.
v. 22. Then call Thou, and I will answer; with these two factors removed, he would gladly obey the summons to stand trial; or let me speak, and answer Thou me, for Job intended to maintain the justice of his cause.
v. 23. How many are mine iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgression and my sin! He was ready to have not only his general transgressions, but especially his graver offenses, any flagrant wickedness, any open apostasy, set forth. He does not mention ordinary, small, and slight offenses, the sins of weakness to which all believers are subject. He is speaking of specific trespasses of a grave nature, such as take away faith out of the heart and are often punished directly.
v. 24. Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face, in apparent displeasure and anger, and holdest me for Thine enemy? Such God seemed to him to be, judging from His treatment of Job at that time.
v. 25. Wilt Thou break a leaf driven to and fro, shaking him, who was already broken with misery, with further terrors? And wilt Thou pursue the dry stubble? On account of the fearful visitation which had struck him, Job was like dry chaff.
v. 26. For Thou writest bitter things against me, in written decrees announcing the sentence of punishment, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth, his old age, as it were, inheriting the accumulated usury and consequence of youthful sins, a treatment which seemed unduly cruel to Job.
v. 27. Thou put test my feet also in the stocks, treating him like a prisoner who was tortured by having his feet fastened to a block, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths, watching him so closely as not to permit the slightest freedom of action. Thou set test a print upon the heels of my feet, literally, "around the soles of my feet Thou makest marks, or incisions," setting the boundary over which he dared not pass so close that he was really rooted to the ground, so that he was cruelly and narrowly imprisoned.
v. 28. And he, namely, Job, the persecuted one, as a rotten thing, consumeth, wasting away, falling into nothingness from rottenness, as a garment that is moth-eaten. The defiant mood of Job once more changes to despair, since God did not answer him, the same feeling which takes hold of believers in our days when they think their prayers for relief are not heeded by the Lord.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 13". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19