Job 23


1 Then Job replied:
2 “Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand[a] is heavy in spite of[b] my groaning.
3 If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!
4 I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.
5 I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say to me.
6 Would he vigorously oppose me? No, he would not press charges against me.
7 There the upright can establish their innocence before him, and there I would be delivered forever from my judge.
8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.
9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases.
14 He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.
15 That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him.
16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.
17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.

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Job 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Job complains that God has withdrawn. (1-7) He asserts his own integrity. (8-12) The Divine terrors. (13-17)

Verses 1-7 Job appeals from his friends to the just judgement of God. He wants to have his cause tried quickly. Blessed be God, we may know where to find him. He is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; and upon a mercy-seat, waiting to be gracious. Thither the sinner may go; and there the believer may order his cause before Him, with arguments taken from his promises, his covenant, and his glory. A patient waiting for death and judgment is our wisdom and duty, and it cannot be without a holy fear and trembling. A passionate wishing for death or judgement is our sin and folly, and ill becomes us, as it did Job.

Verses 8-12 Job knew that the Lord was every where present; but his mind was in such confusion, that he could get no fixed view of God's merciful presence, so as to find comfort by spreading his case before him. His views were all gloomy. God seemed to stand at a distance, and frown upon him. Yet Job expressed his assurance that he should be brought forth, tried, and approved, for he had obeyed the precepts of God. He had relished and delighted in the truths and commandments of God. Here we should notice that Job justified himself rather than God, or in opposition to him, ch. 32:2 . Job might feel that he was clear from the charges of his friends, but boldly to assert that, though visited by the hand of God, it was not a chastisement of sin, was his error. And he is guilty of a second, when he denies that there are dealings of Providence with men in this present life, wherein the injured find redress, and the evil are visited for their sins.

Verses 13-17 As Job does not once question but that his trials are from the hand of God, and that there is no such thing as chance, how does he account for them? The principle on which he views them is, that the hope and reward of the faithful servants of God are only laid up in another life; and he maintains that it is plain to all, that the wicked are not treated according to their deserts in this life, but often directly the reverse. But though the obtaining of mercy, the first-fruits of the Spirit of grace, pledges a God, who will certainly finish the work which he has began; yet the afflicted believer is not to conclude that all prayer and entreaty will be in vain, and that he should sink into despair, and faint when he is reproved of Him. He cannot tell but the intention of God in afflicting him may be to produce penitence and prayer in his heart. May we learn to obey and trust the Lord, even in tribulation; to live or die as he pleases: we know not for what good ends our lives may be shortened or prolonged.

Cross References 29

  • 1. S Job 7:11
  • 2. S 1 Samuel 1:10; S Job 6:3
  • 3. Psalms 6:6; Psalms 32:4; Jeremiah 45:3; Ezekiel 21:7
  • 4. Deuteronomy 4:29
  • 5. S Job 13:18
  • 6. S Job 9:15
  • 7. S Job 11:5
  • 8. S Job 9:4
  • 9. S Job 6:4
  • 10. S Job 1:1
  • 11. S Genesis 3:8; S Job 9:3; Job 13:3
  • 12. S Job 6:29
  • 13. S Job 9:11
  • 14. Job 1:1; Job 27:6; Job 31:6; Job 36:7; Psalms 7:9; Psalms 11:5; Psalms 34:15; Psalms 37:18; Psalms 94:11; Psalms 119:168; Psalms 146:8
  • 15. S Job 7:18; Psalms 66:10; Psalms 139:1-3
  • 16. S Job 6:29; S Job 22:15; S Psalms 12:6; 1 Peter 1:7
  • 17. Psalms 17:5
  • 18. Job 31:7; Psalms 40:4; Psalms 44:18; Psalms 119:51,59,157; Psalms 125:5; Jeremiah 11:20
  • 19. S Job 6:10
  • 20. S Job 15:11; Matthew 4:4; John 4:32,34
  • 21. S Job 9:3
  • 22. S Job 10:13; Isaiah 55:11; Psalms 115:3
  • 23. 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 4:12
  • 24. S Genesis 45:3
  • 25. S Joshua 24:14; Psalms 34:9; Psalms 36:1; Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Ecclesiastes 12:13; 2 Corinthians 5:11
  • 26. S Deuteronomy 20:3; Psalms 22:14; Jeremiah 51:46
  • 27. Job 27:2
  • 28. S Exodus 3:6; Revelation 6:16
  • 29. S Job 3:6; S Job 19:8

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Septuagint and Syriac; Hebrew /"the hand on me"
  • [b]. Or "heavy on me in"

Chapter Summary


This and the following chapter contain Job's reply to the last oration of Eliphaz; in this he first declares his present sorrowful estate and condition, Job 23:1,2; wishes he knew where to find God, as a judge sitting on a throne, before whom he might lay his cause, and plead it, and have his judgment and final decision passed upon it; when he doubted not but he would deal favourably with him, and both admit him and strengthen him, to plead his own cause, and would acquit him for ever from the charges laid against him, Job 23:3-7; in order to which he sought for him everywhere, but could not find him, but contents himself with this, that God knew his way; and that, after trial of him, he should shine like pure gold, and appear to be no apostate from him, but one sincerely obedient to his commands, and a true lover of his word, Job 23:8-12; and as for his afflictions, they were the result of the unalterable purposes and appointments of God: but what gave him the greatest uneasiness was, that there were more of that sort yet to come, which filled him with fears and faintings, with trouble and darkness, Job 23:13-17.

Job 23 Commentaries

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