Job complains of unkind usage. (1-7) God was the Author of his afflictions. (8-22) Job's belief in the resurrection. (23-29)
Verses 1-7 Job's friends blamed him as a wicked man, because he was so afflicted; here he describes their unkindness, showing that what they condemned was capable of excuse. Harsh language from friends, greatly adds to the weight of afflictions: yet it is best not to lay it to heart, lest we harbour resentment. Rather let us look to Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, and was treated with far more cruelty than Job was, or we can be.
Verses 8-22 How doleful are Job's complaints! What is the fire of hell but the wrath of God! Seared consciences will feel it hereafter, but do not fear it now: enlightened consciences fear it now, but shall not feel it hereafter. It is a very common mistake to think that those whom God afflicts he treats as his enemies. Every creature is that to us which God makes it to be; yet this does not excuse Job's relations and friends. How uncertain is the friendship of men! but if God be our Friend, he will not fail us in time of need. What little reason we have to indulge the body, which, after all our care, is consumed by diseases it has in itself. Job recommends himself to the compassion of his friends, and justly blames their harshness. It is very distressing to one who loves God, to be bereaved at once of outward comfort and of inward consolation; yet if this, and more, come upon a believer, it does not weaken the proof of his being a child of God and heir of glory.
Verses 23-29 The Spirit of God, at this time, seems to have powerfully wrought on the mind of Job. Here he witnessed a good confession; declared the soundness of his faith, and the assurance of his hope. Here is much of Christ and heaven; and he that said such things are these, declared plainly that he sought the better country, that is, the heavenly. Job was taught of God to believe in a living Redeemer; to look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come; he comforted himself with the expectation of these. Job was assured, that this Redeemer of sinners from the yoke of Satan and the condemnation of sin, was his Redeemer, and expected salvation through him; and that he was a living Redeemer, though not yet come in the flesh; and that at the last day he would appear as the Judge of the world, to raise the dead, and complete the redemption of his people. With what pleasure holy Job enlarges upon this! May these faithful sayings be engraved by the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. We are all concerned to see that the root of the matter be in us. A living, quickening, commanding principle of grace in the heart, is the root of the matter; as necessary to our religion as the root of the tree, to which it owes both its fixedness and its fruitfulness. Job and his friends differed concerning the methods of Providence, but they agreed in the root of the matter, the belief of another world.
Job 19:1-29 . JOB'S REPLY TO BILDAD.
2. How long, &c.--retorting Bildad's words ( Job 18:2 ). Admitting the punishment to be deserved, is it kind thus ever to be harping on this to the sufferer? And yet even this they have not yet proved.
3. These--prefixed emphatically to numbers ( Genesis 27:36 ).
ten--that is, often ( Genesis 31:7 ).
make yourselves strange--rather, "stun me" [GESENIUS]. (See Margin for a different meaning [that is, "harden yourselves against me"]).
4.erred--The Hebrew expresses unconscious error. Job was unconscious of wilful sin.
remaineth--literally, "passeth the night." An image from harboring an unpleasant guest for the night. I bear the consequences.
5. magnify, &c.--Speak proudly ( Obadiah 1:12 , Ezekiel 35:13 ).
against me--emphatically repeated ( Psalms 38:16 ).
plead . . . reproach--English Version makes this part of the protasis, "if" being understood, and the apodosis beginning at Job 19:6 . Better with UMBREIT, If ye would become great heroes against me in truth, ye must prove (evince) against me my guilt, or shame, which you assert. In the English Version "reproach" will mean Job's calamities, which they "pleaded" against him as a "reproach," or proof of guilt.
6. compassed . . . net--alluding to Bildad's words ( Job 18:8 ). Know, that it is not that I as a wicked man have been caught in my "own net"; it is God who has compassed me in His--why, I know not.
7. wrong--violence: brought on him by God.
no judgment--God will not remove my calamities, and so vindicate my just cause; and my friends will not do justice to my past character.
8. Image from a benighted traveller.
9. stripped . . . crown--image from a deposed king, deprived of his robes and crown; appropriate to Job, once an emir with all but royal dignity ( Lamentations 5:16 , Psalms 89:39 ).
10. destroyed . . . on every side--"Shaken all round, so that I fall in the dust"; image from a tree uprooted by violent shaking from every side [UMBREIT]. The last clause accords with this ( Jeremiah 1:10 )
mine hope--as to this life (in opposition to Zophar, Job 11:18 ); not as to the world to come ( Job 19:25 , Job 14:15 ).
11. enemies--( Job 13:24 , Lamentations 2:5 ).
12. troops--Calamities advance together like hostile troops ( Job 10:17 ).
raise up . . . way--An army must cast up a way of access before it, in marching against a city ( Isaiah 40:3 ).
13. brethren--nearest kinsmen, as distinguished from "acquaintance." So "kinsfolk" and "familiar friends" ( Job 19:14 ) correspond in parallelism. The Arabic proverb is, "The brother, that is, the true friend, is only known in time of need."
estranged--literally, "turn away with disgust." Job again unconsciously uses language prefiguring the desertion of Jesus Christ ( Job 16:10 , Luke 23:49 , Psalms 38:11 ).
15. They that dwell, &c.--rather, "sojourn": male servants, sojourning in his house. Mark the contrast. The stranger admitted to sojourn as a dependent treats the master as a stranger in his own house.
16. servant--born in my house (as distinguished from those sojourning in it), and so altogether belonging to the family. Yet even he disobeys my call.
mouth--that is, "calling aloud"; formerly a nod was enough. Now I no longer look for obedience, I try entreaty.
17. strange--His breath by elephantiasis had become so strongly altered and offensive, that his wife turned away as estranged from him ( Job 19:13 , Job 17:1 ).
children's . . . of mine own body--literally, "belly." But "loins" is what we should expect, not "belly" (womb), which applies to the woman. The "mine" forbids it being taken of his wife. Besides their children were dead. In Job 3:10 the same words "my womb" mean, my mother's womb: therefore translate, "and I must entreat (as a suppliant) the children of my mother's womb"; that is, my own brothers--a heightening of force, as compared with last clause of Job 19:16 [UMBREIT]. Not only must I entreat suppliantly my servant, but my own brothers ( Psalms 69:8 ). Here too, he unconsciously foreshadows Jesus Christ ( John 7:5 ).
18. young children--So the Hebrew means ( Job 21:11 ). Reverence for age is a chief duty in the East. The word means "wicked" ( Job 16:11 ). So UMBREIT has it here, not so well.
I arose--Rather, supply "if," as Job was no more in a state to stand up. "If I stood up (arose), they would speak against (abuse) me" [UMBREIT].
19. inward--confidential; literally, "men of my secret"--to whom I entrusted my most intimate confidence.
20. Extreme meagerness. The bone seemed to stick in the skin, being seen through it, owing to the flesh drying up and falling away from the bone. The Margin, "as to my flesh," makes this sense clearer. The English Version, however, expresses the same: "And to my flesh," namely, which has fallen away from the bone, instead of firmly covering it.
skin of my teeth--proverbial. I have escaped with bare life; I am whole only with the skin of my teeth; that is, my gums alone are whole, the rest of the skin of my body is broken with sores ( Job 7:5 , Psalms 102:5 ). Satan left Job his speech, in hope that he might therewith curse God.
21. When God had made him such a piteous spectacle, his friends should spare him the additional persecution of their cruel speeches.
22. as God--as God has persecuted me. Prefiguring Jesus Christ ( Psalms 69:26 ). That God afflicts is no reason that man is to add to a sufferer's affliction ( Zechariah 1:15 ).
satisfied with my flesh--It is not enough that God afflicts my flesh literally ( Job 19:20 ), but you must "eat my flesh" metaphorically ( Psalms 27:2 ); that is, utter the worst calumnies, as the phrase often means in Arabic.
23. Despairing of justice from his friends in his lifetime, he wishes his words could be preserved imperishably to posterity, attesting his hope of vindication at the resurrection.
printed--not our modern printing, but engraven.
lead--poured into the engraven characters, to make them better seen [UMBREIT]. Not on leaden plates; for it was "in the rock" that they were engraved. Perhaps it was the hammer that was of "lead," as sculptors find more delicate incisions are made by it, than by a harder hammer. FOSTER (One Primeval Language) has shown that the inscriptions on the rocks in Wady-Mokatta, along Israel's route through the desert, record the journeys of that people, as Cosmas Indicopleustes asserted, A.D. 535.
for ever--as long as the rock lasts.
25. redeemer--UMBREIT and others understand this and Job 19:26 , of God appearing as Job's avenger before his death, when his body would be wasted to a skeleton. But Job uniformly despairs of restoration and vindication of his cause in this life ( Job 17:15 Job 17:16 ). One hope alone was left, which the Spirit revealed--a vindication in a future life: it would be no full vindication if his soul alone were to be happy without the body, as some explain ( Job 19:26 ) "out of the flesh." It was his body that had chiefly suffered: the resurrection of his body, therefore, alone could vindicate his cause: to see God with his own eyes, and in a renovated body ( Job 19:27 ), would disprove the imputation of guilt cast on him because of the sufferings of his present body. That this truth is not further dwelt on by Job, or noticed by his friends, only shows that it was with him a bright passing glimpse of Old Testament hope, rather than the steady light of Gospel assurance; with us this passage has a definite clearness, which it had not in his mind The idea in "redeemer" with Job is Vindicator ( Job 16:19 , Numbers 35:27 ), redressing his wrongs; also including at least with us, and probably with him, the idea of the predicted Bruiser of the serpent's head. Tradition would inform him of the prediction. FOSTER shows that the fall by the serpent is represented perfectly on the temple of Osiris at Philæ; and the resurrection on the tomb of the Egyptian Mycerinus, dating four thousand years back. Job's sacrifices imply sense of sin and need of atonement. Satan was the injurer of Job's body; Jesus Christ his Vindicator, the Living One who giveth life ( John 5:21 John 5:26 ).
at the latter day--Rather, "the Last," the peculiar title of Jesus Christ, though Job may not have known the pregnancy of his own inspired words, and may have understood merely one that comes after ( 1 Corinthians 15:45 , Revelation 1:17 ). Jesus Christ is the last. The day of Jesus Christ the last day ( John 6:39 ).
stand--rather, "arise": as God is said to "raise up" the Messiah ( Jeremiah 23:5 , Deuteronomy 18:15 ).
earth--rather, "dust": often associated with the body crumbling away in it ( Job 7:21 , 17:16 ); therefore appropriately here. Above that very dust wherewith was mingled man's decaying body shall man's Vindicator arise. "Arise above the dust," strikingly expresses that fact that Jesus Christ arose first Himself above the dust, and then is to raise His people above it ( 1 Corinthians 15:20 1 Corinthians 15:23 ). The Spirit intended in Job's words more than Job fully understood ( 1 Peter 1:12 ). Though He seems, in forsaking me, to be as one dead, He now truly "liveth" in heaven; hereafter He shall appear also above the dust of earth. The Goel or vindicator of blood was the nearest kinsman of the slain. So Jesus Christ took our flesh, to be our kinsman. Man lost life by Satan the "murderer" ( John 8:44 ), here Job's persecutor ( Hebrews 2:14 ). Compare also as to redemption of the inheritance by the kinsman of the dead ( Ruth 4:3-5 Ephesians 1:14 ).
26. Rather, though after my skin (is no more) this (body) is destroyed ("body" being omitted, because it was so wasted as not to deserve the name), yet from my flesh (from my renewed body, as the starting-point of vision, Solomon 2:9 , "looking out from the windows") "shall I see God." Next clause ( Job 19:27 ) proves bodily vision is meant, for it specifies "mine eyes" [ROSENMULLER, 2d ed.]. The Hebrew opposes "in my flesh." The "skin" was the first destroyed by elephantiasis, then the "body."
27. for myself--for my advantage, as my friend.
not another--Mine eyes shall behold Him, but no longer as one estranged from me, as now [BENGEL].
my reins--inward recesses of the heart.
be consumed within me--that is, pine with longing desire for that day ( Psalms 84:2 , 119:81 ). The Gentiles had but few revealed promises: how gracious that the few should have been so explicit (compare Numbers 24:17 , Matthew 2:2 ).
28. Rather, "ye will then (when the Vindicator cometh) say, Why," &c.
root . . . in me--The root of pious integrity, which was the matter at issue, whether it could be in one so afflicted, is found in me. UMBREIT, with many manuscripts and versions, reads "in him." "Or how found we in him ground of contention."
29. wrath--the passionate violence with which the friends persecuted Job.
bringeth, &c.--literally, "is sin of the of the sword"
that ye may know--Supply, "I say this."
judgment--inseparably connected with the coming of the Vindicator. The "wrath" of God at His appearing for the temporal vindication of Job against the friends ( Job 42:7 ) is a pledge of the eternal wrath at the final coming to glorify the saints and judge their enemies ( 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 , Isaiah 25:8 ).