Job 23:13

13 "But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him? He does what he wants, when he wants to.

Job 23:13 Meaning and Commentary

Job 23:13

But he [is] in one [mind]
Either with respect to his commandments, every precept remains in full force, he never alters the thing that is gone out of his lips, or delivers out other commandments different from, or contrary to what he has given; and therefore Job thought it his duty to abide by them, and not decline from them; which is the sense of a Jewish commentator F3, connecting the words with the preceding: Or with respect to his dispensations towards Job in afflicting him; which he continued notwithstanding his innocence, because he is a sovereign Being, and does whatsoever he pleases; he is unchangeable in his purposes and decrees; he is not to be wrought upon by any means to alter his fixed course; he is not to be contradicted nor resisted; and this was the reason why he would not be found by him, though he sought him so earnestly and diligently, and why he would not hear him, and would not appear to try his cause, though he knew he was innocent, because he was determined to go on to afflict him; and he never changes his mind, or alters his counsels, on any account whatever. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "for he [is] alone": and so the Targum,

``if he is alone, or the only one;''

there is none with him to advise him, for "with whom took he counsel?" or to persuade him to be of another mind, and take contrary measures, who might be applied to, to use their interest with him to act it, a different manner; but he is alone, there are none with him that have any influence upon him, and can prevail with him to do otherwise than he does; some translate the words, "if he acts against one" F4; against a man in a hostile way, if he sets his face against him, and comes upon him as an enemy; and so Mr. Broughton, "yet when he is against me, who can stay him?" notwithstanding my innocence and integrity, though I keep his ways, and do not go back from his commandments. Some think there is a redundancy of a letter, which we translate "in", and then the words wilt be read thus: "but he [is] one"; the one only living and true God; this is the voice of reason and revelation, "hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord", ( Deuteronomy 6:4 ) ; for though there are three Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, "these three are one [God]", ( 1 John 5:7 ) ; and so the words are expressive of the unity of the Divine Being; but this seems not to be Job's sense: Aben Ezra says, the truth is, that the letter (b) is not added, is no redundancy, and should be read "he is in one"; but, says he, I cannot explain it, there is a great mystery in it: what the Jew understood not may be more clear and plain to us Christians, who are taught the mystery of the indwelling of the divine Persons in each other, the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father, as they are divine Persons; though in what manner they are we are not able to explain; besides, God was in Christ, as Mediator, reconciling the world, choosing his people in him, and blessing them with all spiritual blessings in him; though the true sense seems to, be what is before given, agreeably to our version, that God is in one mind, purpose, and design; that his decrees are unchangeable and invariable; that he always acts according to them, and never alters them:

and who can turn him?
turn his mind, or cause him to change his counsel, and alter his purposes; or turn his hand, or stop and stay it from the execution of them; it is not to be done by force and power, there is no power equal to his, and much less superior to his; which must be the case, if any could turn him: and though he may be turned by the prayers of his people, and by the repentance of men, so as to repent himself, and not do what he has threatened to do; yet this is no change of his mind and counsels, only an alteration in the course of his providence, or a change of his outward dealings with men, according to his unchangeable will; see ( Isaiah 14:27 ) ( Daniel 4:35 ) ;

and [what] his soul desireth, even [that] he doth:
that is, what he himself desireth earnestly and vehemently; he has done all things in creation according to the good pleasure of his will; and he does all things in providence according to the counsel of it, and as seems best in his sight; and so he does all things in grace, chooses whom he will, predestinates to the adoption of children according to the good pleasure of his will: redeems whom he pleases, and calls by his grace, and brings to glory whomsoever he will be gracious to; see ( Psalms 115:3 ) .


F3 Sophorno.
F4 (dxab awhw) "sed si ipse contra unum agit", Junius & Tremellius; so Piscator, Cocceius.

Job 23:13 In-Context

11 I've followed him closely, my feet in his footprints, not once swerving from his way.
12 I've obeyed every word he's spoken, and not just obeyed his advice - I've treasured it.
13 "But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him? He does what he wants, when he wants to.
14 He'll complete in detail what he's decided about me, and whatever else he determines to do
15 Is it any wonder that I dread meeting him? Whenever I think about it, I get scared all over again.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.