1–13 Job begins his reply to Bildad by agreeing with what he has said, especially with his statement that God does not reject a blameless man (Job 8:20). But, Job asks, how can any mortal claim to be blameless or righteous before God? (verse 2). Job is sure he is innocent of any sin great enough to warrant the terrible punishment he has received, but how can he present his case to God? (verse 3). God is so awesome and powerful! Then, in verses 4–13, Job describes God's awesome power.29
14–20 In these verses, Job imagines a courtroom scene in which he is pleading his case before God. Even though he was innocent, he wouldn't dare argue with God; all he could do would be to plead with [his] Judge for mercy (verses 14—15). Job isn't even sure God would give him a hearing (verse 16); and if He did, He would surely crush Job and multiply [his] wounds (verse 17). No matter how hard Job tried to defend himself, he would end up being pronounced guilty (verse 20).
21–24 Here Job's thoughts about God become even more negative. Job imagines that God doesn't care if he is blameless (verse 21); he thinks God will destroy him anyway, because He destroys both the blameless and the wicked (verse 22). Job imagines a God so unjust that He mocks . . . the innocent and blindfolds . . . judges to keep them from doing justice (verses 23–24). Job's thoughts about God are wrong, of course; even Job has his doubts: If it is not [God], then who is it that is behaving so unjustly?
Job's words here remind us that anyone experiencing deep distress or depression is liable to lash out and say wild and irresponsible things. Those who comfort and counsel the sick must respond gently to such outbursts. Sadly, Job's three “friends” did not respond gently, and as a result they added greatly to Job's distress.
25–31 In these verses Job addresses God directly. After complaining that his life is slipping away (verses 25–26), Job tells God that all his sufferings are in vain because God has already found him guilty30 (verse 29). No matter how much he might try to wash himself, God would just push him into a slime pit (verses 30–31). Job cannot win with God. And this inability to stand as an innocent man before God is a greater burden to Job than all his earthly sufferings.31
32–35 What can Job do? Where can he turn? If God were a man, Job could confront Him in court as an equal (verse 32). Then Job says: “If only there were someone (a mediator) to arbitrate between us—someone who could remove God's rod of judgment from me—then I could speak up without fear” (verses 33–35).
Christians today have such a Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus removes God's rod of judgment from us, because He Himself bore that rod in our place. Because of Jesus, we can now approach God without fear (Romans 8:15; Hebrews 4:16).