Job 9

Listen to Job 9

Job Replies: There Is No Arbiter

1 Then Job answered and said:
2 "Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be 1in the right before God?
3 If one wished to 2contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
4 He is 3wise in heart and mighty in strength --who has 4hardened himself against him, and succeeded?--
5 he who removes mountains, and they know it not, when he overturns them in his anger,
6 who 5shakes the earth out of its place, and 6its pillars tremble;
7 who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars;
8 who alone 7stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;
9 who 8made 9the Bear and 10Orion, the Pleiades 11and the chambers of the south;
10 who does 12great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number.
11 Behold, he passes by me, and I 13see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
12 Behold, he snatches away; 14who can turn him back? 15Who will say to him, 'What are you doing?'
13 "God will not turn back his anger; beneath him bowed the helpers of 16Rahab.
14 17How then can I 18answer him, choosing my words with him?
15 19Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must 20appeal for mercy to my accuser.[a]
16 If I summoned him and he answered me, I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
17 For he crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds 21without cause;
18 he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness.
19 If it is a contest of 22strength, behold, he is mighty! If it is a matter of justice, who can 23summon him?[b]
20 Though I am in the right, 24my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
21 I am 25blameless; I regard not myself; I 26loathe my life.
22 It is all one; therefore I say, He 27destroys both the blameless and the wicked.
23 When 28disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity[c] of the innocent.
24 29The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he 30covers the faces of its judges-- 31if it is not he, who then is it?
25 "My 32days are swifter than 33a runner; they flee away; they see no good.
26 They go by like 34skiffs of reed, like 35an eagle swooping on the prey.
27 If I say, 36'I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face, and 37be of good cheer,'
28 I become 38afraid of all my suffering, for I know you will not 39hold me innocent.
29 I shall be 40condemned; why then do I labor in vain?
30 If I wash myself with snow and 41cleanse my hands with lye,
31 yet you will plunge me into a pit, and my own clothes will 42abhor me.
32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should 43come to trial together.
33 44There is no[d] arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.
34 45Let him take his 46rod away from me, and let 47not dread of him terrify me.
35 Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself.

Job 9 Commentary

Chapter 9

Job acknowledges God's justice. (1-13) He is not able to contend with God. (14-21) Men not to be judged by outward condition. (22-24) Job complains of troubles. (25-35)

Verses 1-13 In this answer Job declared that he did not doubt the justice of God, when he denied himself to be a hypocrite; for how should man be just with God? Before him he pleaded guilty of sins more than could be counted; and if God should contend with him in judgment, he could not justify one out of a thousand, of all the thoughts, words, and actions of his life; therefore he deserved worse than all his present sufferings. When Job mentions the wisdom and power of God, he forgets his complaints. We are unfit to judge of God's proceedings, because we know not what he does, or what he designs. God acts with power which no creature can resist. Those who think they have strength enough to help others, will not be able to help themselves against it.

Verses 14-21 Job is still righteous in his own eyes, ch. 32:1 , and this answer, though it sets forth the power and majesty of God, implies that the question between the afflicted and the Lord of providence, is a question of might, and not of right; and we begin to discover the evil fruits of pride and of a self-righteous spirit. Job begins to manifest a disposition to condemn God, that he may justify himself, for which he is afterwards reproved. Still Job knew so much of himself, that he durst not stand a trial. If we say, We have no sin, we not only deceive ourselves, but we affront God; for we sin in saying so, and give the lie to the Scripture. But Job reflected on God's goodness and justice in saying his affliction was without cause.

Verses 22-24 Job touches briefly upon the main point now in dispute. His friends maintained that those who are righteous and good, always prosper in this world, and that none but the wicked are in misery and distress: he said, on the contrary, that it is a common thing for the wicked to prosper, and the righteous to be greatly afflicted. Yet there is too much passion in what Job here says, for God doth not afflict willingly. When the spirit is heated with dispute or with discontent, we have need to set a watch before our lips.

Verses 25-35 What little need have we of pastimes, and what great need to redeem time, when it runs on so fast towards eternity! How vain the enjoyments of time, which we may quite lose while yet time continues! The remembrance of having done our duty will be pleasing afterwards; so will not the remembrance of having got worldly wealth, when it is all lost and gone. Job's complaint of God, as one that could not be appeased and would not relent, was the language of his corruption. There is a Mediator, a Daysman, or Umpire, for us, even God's own beloved Son, who has purchased peace for us with the blood of his cross, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through him. If we trust in his name, our sins will be buried in the depths of the sea, we shall be washed from all our filthiness, and made whiter than snow, so that none can lay any thing to our charge. We shall be clothed with the robes of righteousness and salvation, adorned with the graces of the Holy Spirit, and presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. May we learn the difference between justifying ourselves, and being thus justified by God himself. Let the tempest-tossed soul consider Job, and notice that others have passed this dreadful gulf; and though they found it hard to believe that God would hear or deliver them, yet he rebuked the storm, and brought them to the desired haven. Resist the devil; give not place to hard thoughts of God, or desperate conclusions about thyself. Come to Him who invites the weary and heavy laden; who promises in nowise to cast them out.

Cross References 47

  • 1. Job 4:17
  • 2. [Job 10:2; Psalms 143:2; Romans 3:20]
  • 3. [Job 12:13; Job 36:5]
  • 4. [Exodus 7:13; Exodus 32:9]
  • 5. Isaiah 2:19, 21; Isaiah 13:13; Haggai 2:6, 21; Hebrews 12:26
  • 6. Job 26:11; Psalms 75:3
  • 7. Job 26:7; Psalms 104:2; Jeremiah 10:12; Jeremiah 51:15; Zechariah 12:1
  • 8. Genesis 1:16
  • 9. Job 38:32
  • 10. Job 38:31; Amos 5:8
  • 11. Job 37:9
  • 12. See Job 5:9
  • 13. Job 23:8, 9
  • 14. Job 11:10; Job 23:13
  • 15. Isaiah 45:9; [Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:20]
  • 16. Job 26:12; Psalms 40:4; Psalms 82:4; Psalms 89:10; Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9
  • 17. Job 15:16
  • 18. ver. 3
  • 19. Job 10:15
  • 20. Job 8:5
  • 21. Job 2:3; [Job 34:6]
  • 22. [ver. 4]
  • 23. Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44
  • 24. Job 15:6
  • 25. Job 1:1
  • 26. Job 7:16(Heb.); [Job 10:1]
  • 27. Ecclesiastes 9:2, 3; Ezekiel 21:3
  • 28. Isaiah 10:26
  • 29. [Job 10:3]
  • 30. See Job 12:17
  • 31. [Job 24:25]
  • 32. Job 7:6
  • 33. [2 Chronicles 30:6; Jeremiah 51:31]
  • 34. [Isaiah 18:2]
  • 35. Habakkuk 1:8
  • 36. [Job 7:13]
  • 37. Psalms 39:13
  • 38. [Psalms 119:120]
  • 39. Job 10:14
  • 40. [Job 10:2]
  • 41. Isaiah 1:25; Jeremiah 2:22; See Job 22:30
  • 42. Job 19:19; Job 30:10
  • 43. Ecclesiastes 6:10; Romans 9:20
  • 44. ver. 19; 1 Samuel 2:25; [Job 16:21]
  • 45. [Psalms 39:10]
  • 46. Job 21:9; Psalms 89:32; Isaiah 10:24
  • 47. [Job 13:21; Job 33:7]

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or to my judge
  • [b]. Compare Septuagint; Hebrew me
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
  • [d]. Or Would that there were an

Chapter Summary


This and the following chapter contain Job's answer to Bildad, and in this he asserts the strict justice at God; which is such, that no man can be just in his sight, not being able to answer to one charge, or for one sin, of a thousand he is guilty of, Job 9:1-3; and that such are his wisdom and power, that the most daring man cannot expect to succeed in an opposition to him, Job 9:4; instances are given of his power in the works of nature and providence, Job 9:5-10; notice is taken of the imperceptibleness of his actions and motions, and of his sovereignty in all his ways, Job 9:11,12; and of his fierce wrath and anger, which is such as obliges the proudest of men to stoop under him; and therefore Job chose not to contend in a judicial way with him, but in a suppliant manner would entreat him, since his hand was so heavy upon him, Job 9:13-21; he affirms, in direct opposition to Bildad and his friends, and insists upon it, that God afflicts both the righteous and the wicked; yea, gives the earth to the latter when he slays the former, Job 9:22-24; he then observes the shortness of his days, and complains of his heavy afflictions, Job 9:25-28; and concludes, that it was in vain for him to expect his cause to be heard before God, there being no daysman between them; and wishes that the dread of the Divine Majesty might be taken from him, and then he would freely and without fear speak unto him, Job 9:29-35.

Job 9 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.