Job 24 Commentary

Job 24 Commentary

Job 24 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 24 Commentary: Each of us has a natural sense of justice. We want good to win and bad to lose.

And this is the case by-and-large whether we’re Christians or not. The definition of what is good and what is bad certainly differs between Christians and the lost. Nevertheless, humankind typically cheers for what they consider good and jeers for what they consider bad.

In fact, this is a large part of storytelling. If you’ve ever thought about classic stories – or stories that you love – you’ll probably recognize that there’s a protagonist – a.k.a. the good guy. And usually there’s also an antagonist – the bad guy – or sometimes the bad guy is not a guy at all. Sometimes it’s nature or something else.

But everyone for the most part seems to have this internal desire to see whatever they conceive of as justice carried out in this life.

And this seems to be the impasse that the biblical character Job and his three friends are experiencing as they consider what’s happening in Job’s life.

So, let’s turn to Job, chapter 24 to see this.

And in Job 24 we’re going to see the result of the long argument that Job and his three friends have been engaging in.

These two groups are looking at justice from different perspectives.

Job and his friends are all equally interested in justice being carried out in this life.

The friends have bought into the idea that God always punishes evil immediately and always rewards good immediately in this life. And so, if a person is being punished – he’s evil.

See the logic? If God punishes evil, then if you’re being punished then you’re… Good? No – evil. That’s what the friends believe.

And Job would have believed that himself. Until out of nowhere he starts receiving what seems to be punishment from God! We saw that in chapters 1 and 2 of this book. All his stuff was taken – loved ones, wealth, and health. All gone.

And Job has had time to think. And Job has had to defend himself against these friends’ accusation against him that he is wicked.

But Job hasn’t changed. He’s still righteous. But what has changed? The way that God is dealing with him. And so, instead of blessing Job for his righteousness – God is now punishing Job for his righteousness. And this makes no sense to anyone – Job or his friends.

But the way that his friends make sense of it in their mind is that Job is secretly wicked. And within this extended argument that they’ve been waging with one another – often times the friends will resort to describing how the typical wicked man fares in this life.

And then the friends extend that to Job and say – look Job, we see how what’s happening to you fits with what we think happens to wicked people!

The wicked man – according to the friends – is cursed in every way. He’s miserable. His kids meet with an untimely end. Their possessions and everything they have is cursed in this life.

But Job is looking at those claims. And in this chapter he says – in effect – but, that’s just not the way that things work in this life.

And so, in Job 24 we’re going to see an entire chapter devoted by Job to pointing to times when he’s seen wicked men going unpunished.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Men Go Unpunished

So, Job is going to start this chapter by asserting that very thing – that in numerous ways and in numerous circumstances, wicked men go unpunished in this life!

KJV Job 24:1 Why, [seeing times are not/are times not] [hidden/stored up/appointed] [from/by] the Almighty, [why does the Almighty not punish?…]
[and why…] do they that know him not see his [own…] days?

So, Job is asserting that times are not hidden from God. Nothing is, really. And since that’s the case and God knows everything – why do people who don’t know God see his days? I think that’s speaking of ungodly people living long in this life that God gives them.

So, why do wicked men live long lives in this life that God has given them – when God knows all about their wickedness and nothing is hidden from him? You’d think – and Job is thinking – that if God knows all, then men who don’t know him should not live very long. But they do sometimes!

Job 24 Commentary: Some Who Don’t Get Their Day

And so, Job is going to highlight these people who don’t know God and yet live long lives. And he makes a composite picture of them – not saying that every single wicked man does everything that he mentions. But giving a glimpse across the spectrum of wicked people and giving some characteristics and practices that they tend toward.

Job 24 Commentary: Thieves

And so, Job starts by highlighting that these men steal.

2 [Some/Men] [remove/move] [the landmarks/boundary stones];
they [violently take away/seize] flocks, and [feed thereof/devour them/pasture them].

Now, landmarks or boundary stones in the Old Testament marked where one man’s property ended and another’s began.

We have something similar in our time. For my house we have a pipe driven into the ground that sticks out of the grass a few inches and that’s what people before me have used to remind themselves of where their property ends.

And Job is saying that there are people who take that kind of marker and they move it. And the idea is that they move it in such a way as would disadvantage their neighbor and results in more land for themselves.

And then Job pointed to the wicked men who take people’s flocks and treat that flock like their own.

In both cases, Job is saying that there are people in this life who take what belongs to someone else and make it their own through deception and robbery.

And here’s the key. The friends have said that these people will always be cursed and punished. And yet, Job is saying – No! These people keep the land they steal. They keep the flocks they steal. Sometimes these men go unpunished and they prosper in their wickedness!

Job 24 Commentary: Cruel

Now, you can sort of understand the motivation for stealing. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s not right. But if a person needs food or land or whatever – you can sort of identify with desperation taking over and in the moment just doing something foolish to survive.

But this next characteristic that Job highlights is not like that at all. Did you know that there are some who just take a perverse joy in causing mischief? They’re just plain cruel. Let Job tell you about it.

3 They drive away the [ass/donkey] of the [fatherless/orphan],
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.

So, note the abuse that these men perpetrate against the least-powerful members of society and their material substance.

A child who had no father or mother might still have a donkey – which could assist him in doing work in order to make some money and support himself.

But Job is alerting us to the fact that there are men in this world who would drive that donkey away – either to that wicked man’s home – or what I think is more likely just out into the dessert for some sort of sick “fun” – deriving joy by depriving the needy of the little that they do have.

Same thing with the widow. Job is identifying that there are widows who have an ox that might help them to plow the field and make some sort of meager living. But then that widow falls on extremely hard times and needs to borrow money.

And this hypothetical wicked man is willing to lend to her. But it’ll cost her that ox – the only thing that she has to plow her field and make any sort of living.

So, the widow is left in a bind. She can give the ox and take the money or keep the ox and not have the money. Either way, she’s left in no better shape than when she began.

And so, Job is recognizing the fact that there are wicked men in this world who will take advantage of and mistreat the neediest people in society – not because of personal need – but just out of cruel pleasure.

Job 24 Commentary: Fearful

And so, Job continues highlighting how wicked men abuse those who are less powerful than they are. And in verse 4 Job says that these men are fearful – fear-inducing.

4 They [turn/push] the needy [out of/aside from/from] the [way/road/pathway]:
the poor of the [earth/land] [hide/are made to hide] themselves [together/altogether].

So, these wicked men intimidate and threaten the needy. And in response, the needy are pictured as cowering in some hidden place together – away from their wicked oppressor whom God never seems to judge.

Job 24 Commentary: The Oppressed

So, then Job moves on from there and seems to highlight the plight of those poor and needy ones who are abused by wicked men.

5 Behold, [as/like] wild [asses/donkeys] in the [desert/widerness], go they forth to their work;
[rising betimes/seeking diligently] for [a prey/food]:

the [wilderness/desert/wasteland] yieldeth food for them
and for their children.

So, the poor and needy are driven to hide themselves in the desert from these wicked men whom God never seems to punish. And there in the wastelands they scrape together something that would resemble food for them and their poor helpless children.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Prosper

And yet the wicked are well-fed. Verse 6.

6 They [reap/harvest] [every one his corn/their fodder] in the field:
and they gather [the/in the] [vintage/vineyard] of the wicked.

So, meanwhile – as the needy are forced to forage in the desert for their own food back in verse 5 – at the same time, after they’ve done that then they need to come to work for the wicked and reap their fields.

And they end up taking in a great harvest – even though they don’t get to eat any of it. And, it’s the vintage of the wicked. It should be cursed according to the Retribution Theology of Job’s friends. And yet, Job is pointing out that sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes the vintage of the wicked amazingly seems to be blessed – by the very God whom they spurn.

Job 24 Commentary: Wicked Don’t Clothe Needy

And yet again, Job juxtaposes the apparent blessings of the wicked with the apparent curses and miseries of the needy. Here’s what the wicked do to the needy…

7 They [cause the naked to lodge/spend the night naked] [without/because they lack] clothing,
[that they have/and they have] no covering [in/against] the cold.

So, the wicked would have something to clothe the naked with. But they withhold it. Just like they have food for the needy but make the needy go out into the desert to gather whatever they can find.

And in fact, it’s worse than that. The assumption here is that the wicked actively steal the clothing of the needy.

And according to Retribution Theology – and really, even according to our own innate sense of justice – this isn’t right! It’s the wicked who should go poorly clothed and hungry! And yet, that’s not always the way it works. In fact, it’s often not the way things work.

Job’s friends don’t want to recognize that. But Job is making a big issue of this inconvenient truth. Because if Job can establish the fact that sometimes the wicked aren’t punished – then couldn’t it be said that sometimes the righteous aren’t blessed materially? Because that’s what Job is starting to recognize is happening to him – even though his friends aren’t willing to believe that.

Job 24 Commentary: Needy Wet With Rain

And so, Job keeps his focus on the needy who are disadvantaged because of wicked men.

8 They are [wet with/soaked by] [the showers of the mountains/mountain rains],
and [embrace the rock/hug the rock/huddle in the rocks] [for want of a/because they lack] shelter.

So, not only do the needy lack proper clothing like in verse 7. They also lack proper shelter sometimes.

And again – if the needy are innocent of wickedness or are positively righteous then the Retribution Theology way of thinking would say that these people should be blessed materially. They should have nice houses.

And sometimes God does work it out that way. But he doesn’t always.

And to tie this all into what Job is trying to say in these last 20-some chapters – just because Job is suffering doesn’t mean that he’s secretly sinning – like his three friends have constantly been maintaining.

Job 24 Commentary: Stealing Children from Parents

But Job has more to say regarding how sometimes bad things happen to relatively good people and good things happen to really bad people…

9 [They/Others] [pluck/snatch] the [fatherless/orphan/fatherless child] from the breast,
and take a pledge [of/against] the poor.

And in context that pledge might well be the infant that the wicked stole from his poor mother.

And by the way – if you’re really thinking about these various scenes that Job is portraying, you should be angry. This is not right! Powerful people ought not abuse their power at the expense of those who have little to no power.

Part of the image of God in man surely must be a desire to meet the needs of those who have less than you. And so, when Job keeps parading before our mind’s eye all of these cases in which those who are struggling are beaten down even more by those who have the means to lift them up… there should be a sense of anger in us – of holy indignation!

That’s surely how Job feels about it. But I think the friends haven’t thought that deeply about injustice in this life. They’d rather ignore the facts and continue in what they’ve always believed – even when what they believe is neither based on God’s word – nor in line with reality.

But in the mind of everyone who’s pondered or experienced this kind of thing – our minds do start to wonder as to why God seems to not take any action. Why does he let this go on?

And we have answers for this in Scripture that Job and his friends didn’t seem to have access to. Namely – even the message of this book is helpful in this regard: When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom.

God’s ways of patiently allowing evil to happen are not easy to understand. But even when we can’t understand his ways, we do well to – we must – trust his wisdom.

Job 24 Commentary: Living without Proper Food and Clothing

Well, Job continues to pile up in his mind the injustices in this world – especially as they relate to wicked men seeming to avoid being punished for their wickedness to their fellow-man.

10 They [cause him to go/cause the poor to go about/go about] naked without clothing,
and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; [or, someone goes hungry while carrying sheaves…]

So, the wicked is being pictured either as stealing a sheaf of grain from the hungry – or making the hungry work while carrying his sheaves in the harvest field. In other words, making a hungry man work while not allowing him to eat a little of what he’s working on that could be a benefit to the hungry. Like muzzling the ox while he’s threshing.

Job 24 Commentary: No Drink

And that second option might be the more likely one – making the hungry work while not letting them eat what they’re working on. Because in the next verse, Job seems to mention the needy working for the wicked while they themselves go thirsty. They worked with the wicked man’s sheaves without any food. Now they work for the wicked man making oil and wine – liquids – without getting to drink anything.

11 [Which/They] [make/produce/press out] oil [within/between] [their walls/the rows of olive trees],
and tread their winepresses, [and suffer thirst/but thirst/while they are thirsty].

So, the poor man presses the olives and grapes of his wicked masters. But the ones doing the work go without any of the benefit of the work they’re producing. They’re like slave labor – with their masters failing to recognize that these poor and needy men are men – who are made in God’s image and worthy of compassion and care.

Job 24 Commentary: Bleak Life

Well then, Job goes on in verse 12 to paint a really bleak picture of life on this earth where wicked men prosper. And then Job adds this note: “God doesn’t do anything to stop it!”

12 [Men/Dying men] groan [from out of/from] the city,
and the soul of the wounded crieth out [for help…]:

yet God [layeth not folly to them/does not pay attention to folly/charges no one with wrongdoing].

And this is the thrust of Job’s frustration that he’s pouring out in this chapter. The wicked even go so far as to kill people. And it’s as if the groans of their victims could be heard from all around the city as these men die at the hand of wicked people.

And according to the way that Job and his friends have been thinking – this shouldn’t happen. Or if it does happen, God should immediately stop it. Because – after all – God punishes evil. He rewards good. He delivers the innocent.

And the reality is that God does those things often. But not always.

Sometimes he does let wicked men prosper. Sometimes he does let the innocent and needy be abused and taken advantage of.

And that makes no sense to us. Because even as we’ve heard in our church in a recent message – God is good and God is powerful. And if that’s the case, then we would assume that God would basically make earth like heaven – no sin, no wickedness, no injustice. In fact, as we’ve heard on Wednesday nights – that’s how Jesus commands us to pray – that earth would be like heaven in terms of God’s will being done in both.

But that’s where Pastor Kindstedt’s third point comes in from a few Sunday evenings ago. God is also wise. Not just good and powerful – but also wise. He knows what he’s doing. And he knows what to allow and when. And it won’t always make sense to us. But again we’re reminded that When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust God’s Wisdom.

Job is almost ready to do that. His friends are nowhere near being able to accept that. They have forced God’s ways make sense to them. And in the process, they’re condemning an innocent man. They’re accusing Job of sinning – and sinning to such an extent that God has brought this suffering in his life as a form of punishment.

But that’s why Job is pointing out the fact that wicked men do sometimes get away with murder – literally. And innocent men suffer wrongfully. It happens! – Job is telling these men.

Job 24 Commentary: More of a View of Wickedness

Then, Job continues to speak of wicked men.

13 [They are of/Others have been with/There are] those that rebel against the light;
they know not the ways thereof, [and don’t want to …]
nor [abide/stay] in the paths thereof.

And from there, Job adds to his composite portrait of wicked people.

Job 24 Commentary: Murderers

We have murderers in verse 14.

14 The murderer rising [with the light/at dawn/before daybreak]
killeth the poor and needy,
and in the night is as a thief.

Job 24 Commentary: Adulterers

Then, adulterers are in view in verse 15.

15 The eye also of the adulterer [waiteth/watches] for the twilight,
saying, No eye [shall/will/can] see me:
and [disguiseth/covers with a mask] his face.

Job 24 Commentary: Adulterers or Thieves

Then in verses 16 and 17 Job is speaking either of adulterers from verse 15 – or he’s starting a new category of wicked people by speaking once more of thieves.

16 In the dark [they/robbers] [dig through/dig into/breaks into] houses,
which they [had marked for themselves/shut themselves in] in the daytime:
they know not the light.

17 For the morning is to them [even/the same] as [the shadow of death/thick darkness/deep darkness]:
[if one know them, they are in/he knows/they are friends with] the terrors of [the shadow of death/thick darkness].

Job 24 Commentary: The Friends are Overly-Simple

And in light of all of this – of wicked men prospering – of wicked men abusing others with no justice brought to them – Job seems to take aim at the overly-simple representation of reality that his friends have constructed in their minds.

18 [You say…] He is [swift/insignificant/foam] [as/on] the waters;
their portion is cursed [in the earth/of land]:
[he beholdeth not/they do not turn toward/so that no one goes] the way of [the/their] vineyards.

So, the friends have claimed that wicked people are insignificant. They’re like water. Further, what they have in this life is cursed. And as an example of that cursing – these evil people don’t even get to see their vineyards.

But Job was just telling them of times where the wicked have the innocent and needy work in those vineyards! And God doesn’t seem to do anything about it in order to make the situation like what the friends say it should be!

Either that, or Job is saying here that the needy are insignificant in this life and that their portion – rather than the portion of the wicked – is cursed and that the needy don’t get to be benefited from the produce of vineyards.

I lean toward the first interpretation. That Job is attacking the friends’ overly-simple way of thinking of the wicked in this life.

Job 24 Commentary: More False Claims

And here’s another thing the friends claim.

19 Drought and heat [consume/carry away] the snow waters:
so doth the grave those which have sinned.

20 [The womb/A mother] shall forget him;
the worm shall [feed sweetly/feast] on him;

he shall be no more remembered; [because of the worm’s work…]
and wickedness shall be broken as a tree.

So, the friends claim that wicked men simply die. They are forgotten by everyone and their bodies decay. God destroys them.

And while that is usually ultimately true, Job has just furnished numerous examples where that doesn’t happen right away.

Job 24 Commentary: No Consequences

No – in fact, Job says – the wicked man abuses others in this life with no consequence. And this is now Job speaking what he personally believes – not what he’s saying the friends think.

21 He [evil entreateth/wrongs/preys on] the barren that beareth not:
and doeth not good to the widow.

So, Job paints the picture of bad people preying on the barren and the widow – with no repercussion.

Job 24 Commentary: The Wicked Destroy the Mighty

And it’s not just the weak and disadvantaged that evil men overcome. They even destroy the mighty!

22 [He/God] [draweth/drags off] [also/but] the [mighty/valiant] [with/by] his power:
[he/God] riseth up, and no man is sure of life.

Now, one translation I often consult makes these statements to apply to God – as if this is Job still quoting his three friends and the wrong things they’ve asserted. But I don’t think that’s necessary. In the flow, it seems that Job is still speaking of wicked men – not of God.

Job 24 Commentary: How God Deals with the Wicked

And then I think Job grapples with the idea that God seems to do two actions at the same time that seem to not operate in harmony – 1) God grants the wicked safety and 2) He’s watching everything they do.

23 Though it be given [him/the wicked] [by God…] to be in safety, whereon [he/the wicked] resteth;
[yet/but] [his/God’s] eyes are upon [their/the wicked’s] ways.

Job 24 Commentary: The Wicked Do Eventually Die

And in the end though, it seems like Job admits that the wicked do eventually die.

24 They are exalted for a little while,
but are gone and brought low;

they are [taken out of the way/gathered up/gathered in] as all other,
and cut off as the tops of the [ears of corn/heads of grain].

So, perhaps what we see here in this verse is Job calibrating his thoughts.

For much of this chapter we’ve seen him go to one extreme and paint a picture of the wicked always winning and prospering. And in fact, as I’ve taught this chapter, I’ve consciously added words to qualify what Job is saying – because at face value, his bare words are giving the impression that the wicked never lose or suffer or even die.

And so, I think what Job is doing here in verse 24 that we just read is adjusting his message a bit. He’s recognizing that the wicked do eventually die – just like everyone else. And really, their exaltation is just for a little while in the scheme of things.

And yet, what Job has said in this chapter he still does really believe – that wicked men don’t always suffer and face curses from God in this life. That there are long stretches of time during which it will look like the wicked are doing very well and that God is doing absolutely nothing about it.

Job 24 Commentary: A Challenge Raised

And so, Job ends his speech by throwing down the gauntlet and raising a challenge to these thoughtless friends of his.

25 And if it be not so now, who will [make/prove] me a liar,
and make my speech [nothing worth/worthless]?

And, Job shouldn’t have offered that challenge. Because one last time, one of his friends is going to answer that challenge and try to prove Job wrong. We’ll see that next time.

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo

I love Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo. And so, even though this isn’t what I usually publish on this site, I thought I’d make this page into a collection of all live performances of Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo. Enjoy!

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the River Tree Singers (USA – Greenville, SC)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Mullingar Choral Society (Ireland)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Festival Singers of Florida (USA)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Voices of the Commonwealth (USA – Kentucky)

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo by the Christ Church Sugarland

Dan Forrest Jubilate Deo Rehearsal Tracks (Not Live, of Course)

Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 
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Psalm 48 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Psalm 48.

Psalm 48 is a praise psalm. And the praise of the psalmist is directed toward two entities.

First, the psalmist praises a particular city – Mount Zion – Jerusalem.

But ultimately the psalmist has his praises set on the Lord.

But these two entities – the Lord and Jerusalem – are closely connected in this psalm. And we’re going to discover that the connection comes from the fact that the Lord protects this city – Jerusalem – and the people in it – his people.

And interestingly enough – I think we once more see some subtle foretelling of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ in this psalm – as we have seen in the last few we’ve studied.

So, let’s study Psalm 48.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Superscription

We’ll start with the superscription.

KJV Psalm 48:1 <A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah.>

And there’s not a whole lot to say about that portion of the psalm, so we’ll proceed.

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Lord’s Praiseworthiness

Now, to begin the main section of this psalm, the psalmist declares the great praiseworthiness of the Lord – and he ties the Lord’s praiseworthiness to a specific location – Jerusalem. Verse 1.

Great is the LORD,
and [greatly/certainly worthy] to be praised

And where in particular is the Lord worthy to be praised?…

in the city of our God,
[in the mountain of his holiness/his holy mountain/his holy hill].

So, the Lord is to be praised in this special location. Out of all the locations on the earth, the Lord had chosen to set his name in Israel. And in particular, he’s chosen the capital city of that land – Jerusalem – as a place which holds special significance for him.

Jerusalem is the place where the Temple was constructed – has been constructed several times at this point. It’s the place where the Lord himself – Jesus Christ – served and was crucified for our sin.

It’s the place where Jesus will return – on the Mount of Olives right across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount.

It’s where Jesus Christ will reign on the throne of his father David for one thousand years.

Jerusalem is a special place in God’s program and plan for the world. It has been. It is now. And it will be in the future.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Mount Zion’s Praiseworthiness

And in light of these wonderful facts about Jerusalem, the psalmist transitions from praising the Lord in Jerusalem to praising Jerusalem itself. Verse 2.

2 [Beautiful for situation/Beautiful in elevation/It is lofty and pleasing to look at],
[the joy of/a source of joy to] the whole earth,

is mount Zion, [on the sides of the north/in the far north/resembles the peaks of Zaphon]
the city of the great King.

So, the psalmist praises the appearance of Jerusalem. In particular, he focuses on its height – its elevation.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Elevation

And it is an elevated area. That’s why throughout the Bible, when it speaks of people going to Jerusalem it speaks of the direction traveled as being “up.” People go “up” to Jerusalem. And when they leave Jerusalem, they go “down.”

Jerusalem is lofty. Its situation is beautiful in that sense.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Joy of the Whole Earth

But what do you make of that next statement we read in verse 2? Jerusalem is the joy of the whole earth? … Is it?

Well, I would be hard-pressed to see how Jerusalem could be the joy of the whole earth in the time of this psalm’s writing – back in the Old Testament timeframe. At best, Jerusalem would be a joy to Israel.

And today even, Jerusalem really can’t be said to be the joy of the whole earth. Yes, Jews, Christians, and Muslims revere the place. But what about the Buddhists? What about the Hindus? What about the so-called atheists and agnostics? What about all the world leaders who find Jerusalem to be a powder keg to try to control? For all these groups and more, right now Jerusalem is not a source of joy.

So, perhaps at no time could Jerusalem literally be referred to as the joy of the whole earth…

But it will be some day. There’s a day coming when the Lord himself will return to earth – destroy his enemies – and set up his reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years. At that time, all the nations of the earth will go up to Jerusalem and hear God’s word straight from God-with-us (“Immanuel”) himself!

At that point – in the Millennial reign of Christ – Jerusalem – the city of the Great King, Jesus Christ – will be the joy of the whole earth.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Sides of the North

Now, one last thing needs to be covered in this verse. The psalmist says – according to the KJV – that Mount Zion is on the sides of the north. And we wonder – what does that mean?

Because I can tell you that Jerusalem – as you look at it from the perspective of the geography of Israel – ancient or modern – it’s really not in the north. It’s more central than anything else. And actually, it even tends to be a bit south of the center of the land.

So, how is Jerusalem in the “sides of the north?”

Psalm 48 Commentary: Sides

Well, let me point out that the Hebrew word translated as “sides” is used in 2 Kings 19 to speak of the most distant portion of a mountain. So, let’s translate “sides” in Psalm 48 as “most distant part of…”

Then, it’s the most distant part of what?

Well, the KJV says that it’s the most distant part of “the north.”

What’s that?

Psalm 48 Commentary: North

Well, that word literally means “north.” No surprise there.

But the surprise is that there was a mountain at the time of the writing of this psalm. And this mountain was in modern day Turkey, bordering on Syria. And it was called Mount Zaphon. And zaphon in Hebrew is often translated as “north.” Today this mountain is known by another name – Jebel Aqra or Mount Casius.

Anyway, the significance of this mountain for ancient people in the region of Canaan was that people believed that the Canaanite deity Ba’al and his sister ‘Anat lived on the peak of that mountain. It was a sort of smaller version of Mount Olympus – where the make-believe deities were supposed to have lived. That’s Mount Zaphon – the center of worship for the so-called “Lord” – Ba’al.

But Psalm 48 comes along and declares that that place doesn’t hold a candle to Mount Zion. Mount Zion is where the true LORD has chosen to reside. Mount Zion is truly the city of the great King – greater than Ba’al and ‘Anat. Greater than anything. …

I’d say that makes him worthy of praise, indeed!

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Connection Between the Lord and Mount Zion

And so, we’ve heard that both the Lord and Mount Zion are praiseworthy. But what is the connection between the two?

That’s what the psalmist begins to unfold in verse 3. Here’s the shared connection between the Lord and Mount Zion…

3 God [is known/has made himself known as/reveals himself as] in her [palaces/fortresses]
for a [refuge/stronghold/its defender].

So, what’s the connection between the Lord and Mount Zion? It’s this – that the Lord protects Mount Zion. He’s the refuge or stronghold of this special place on earth.

He was in the Old Testament – when this psalm was penned. And he will be when he comes to it in the person of Jesus Christ.

And of course, it should go without saying – but we need to remind ourselves that God is not concerned about grass and trees and stones. He’s not concerned solely for the geographic area of Jerusalem.

Rather, he’s concerned about Jerusalem for the sake of its inhabitants – in the Old Testament, the Jews. In the future – his people, both Jew and Gentile who are one in Christ.

God is not enamored with land for the sake of mere land. He’s concerned about Jerusalem for the sake of his people.

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Battle

And for this Old Testament psalmist, the Lord demonstrated his concern for his people in a very tangible way. The psalmist apparently had a recent military victory in his mind – which he describes for us in verses 4 through 7.

And as we read this description of past victory – we can also imagine the ultimate victory that the King of the Jews – Jesus Christ – will yet have before he sets up his Millennial reign from this hallowed city.

So, let’s allow the psalmist to set the battle in our minds.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Kings Set to Attack

It begins in verse 4 with the threatening menace of foreign kings who are ready to attack and destroy God’s holy city.

4 For, lo, the kings were assembled,
they [passed by/advance] together.

So, in our mind’s eye – here they come! They’re assembling! They’re advancing!

The kings are coming. And Jerusalem and God’s people need defense.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Defense!

And that’s just what they get starting in verse 5.

5 [They saw it/As soon as they see],
[and so they marveled/then they were amazed/they are shocked];

they [were/are] [troubled/terrified],
[and hasted away/they fled in alarm/they quickly retreat].

So, these assembled and advancing kings see something. What? – we don’t know, yet. So, there’s some suspense as we ask ourselves – what did these terrifying kings see that terrified them so much?

And the psalmist doesn’t answer that yet. Instead, he heaps up the suspense and the fear and terror that these kings are experiencing and expressing in verse 6.

6 [Fear/Panic] [took hold upon/seized] them there, [look at them shake uncontrollably…]
[and pain/anguish], as of a woman in [travail/childbirth].

So, these mighty kings are now reduced to the emotional state of a woman in the midst of delivering a baby – which is to say that they are not at all as frightening as they first appeared to be.

And it’s reported as if it’s a play-by-play. It should make us feel that we’re right there experiencing it as it’s being described.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Reason for Anguish

Now, we’re still left wondering what caused these kings to become so emotionally distressed that they would flee from their original plan to attack Jerusalem.

And I personally think that the answer to that question is found in verse 7.

7 Thou [breakest/shatter] [the ships of Tarshish/large ships]
with an east wind.

Psalm 48 Commentary: East Wind

So, let’s talk about this east wind first.

Picture Israel. To the west you have the Mediterranean Sea. To the right you have miles and miles of sandy dry desert.

So, the wind usually comes from the west – from the sea. And because of that, it delivers cool and moist air and sometimes even rain. Every once in a while, snow.

But when the wind blows from the east, it’s dry and hot. It scorches and kills. In fact, Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interpreted included an east wind that killed his ears of corn.

So, the psalmist is praising God for the fact that this kind of scorching killing menacing wind has come or will come and that it results in the destruction of these ships.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Ships of Tarshish

They’re ships of Tarshish. Or ships that would be large enough to travel from Israel across the sea to ancient Tarshish or probably modern-day Spain.

And the psalmist praises God because he says that these ships have been destroyed by an east wind.

So, let’s think about this.

First of all, we recognize that these ships belong to these kings that are so terrified. And I’m asserting that these kings are terrified because they saw this happen – they saw this east wind come down from the hills of Judea – on which Jerusalem lies – and they saw it smash their boats to bits.

Second, though, I need to confess that I know nothing of a situation like this happening in the Old Testament. If this scenario played out in history – we apparently don’t have it recorded for us.

But third, there is going to be a situation preceding the Millennium in which there will be ships in the vicinity of Israel. And the owner of these ships will be destroyed. And we could probably assume that his ships meet their end too – possibly by an east wind.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Daniel 11

And so, the portion of Scripture I’m referring to is in the 11th chapter of the book of Daniel.

And we’re going to skim through a fairly lengthy section of this chapter and chapter 12 to get an idea of what the author of Psalm 48 might be looking forward to.

KJV Daniel 11:36 ¶ And the king [who’s going to be referred to as the king of the north later…] shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation [of God…] be accomplished: for that [that/what] is determined shall be done.

By the way, of whom is this speaking? This is the Antichrist as we know him from the New Testament.

 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.

39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

40 ¶ And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him [this king of the North or the Antichrist…] : and the king of the north [Antichrist…] shall come against him [king of the south…] like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships [same word as we find in Psalm 48 – and we can imagine that these will be large ships or ships of Tarshish – ships that would be able to travel to Tarshish from Israel…] ; and he [probably Antichrist…] shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

41 He [Antichrist, again…] shall enter also into the glorious land [which would include Mount Zion like we’ve been hearing about in Psalm 48…], and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his [Antichrist’s…] hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.

42 He [A.C.…] shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

43 But he [A.C….] shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his [A.C.’s…] steps.

44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him [A. C.…]: therefore he [A. C.…] shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

45 And he [A. C.…] shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain [Mount Zion…]; yet he [A. C.…] shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

KJV Daniel 12:1 ¶ And at that time shall Michael [who’s an angel…] stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy [Daniel’s…] people: and there shall be a time of trouble [the Great Tribulation…], such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

And we’ll stop there.

But this is a part of Scripture that comes as close as any to describing a time when large ships will be in the vicinity of Mount Zion. A time when Mount Zion is threatened by an army and a terrifying leader – a king even. A time when at least the leader who commanded these large ships will be destroyed. A time that immediately precedes the second coming of Jesus Christ to rule in Mount Zion.

So – to return to Psalm 48 – if the large ships are destroyed and that causes the adversarial kings to tremble – then either this is speaking of a time past that has not been recorded for us in the Old Testament. Or it’s speaking of this time to come in Daniel 11. Or – I suppose – both.

But either way, God protects his people. He has in the past. He will in the future. And in the case of this battle that’s been described – his protection is praiseworthy and glorious!

Psalm 48 Commentary: To See and to Hear

And now, it’s one thing to hear that. To hear of God’s glorious protection of his people. But it’s another thing altogether to actually see that in action. And that’s what the psalmist records the people saying in verse 8.

8 As we have heard [about God’s mighty deeds…],
so have we seen [those deeds…]

in the city of the LORD [of hosts/of heaven’s armies],
in the city of our God:

God [will establish/makes secure] it [for ever/permanently].

Selah.

And so, it’s easy to see the ancient Israelites uttering these words after a great military victory in Old Testament times.

And yet, it’s just as easy to see this as a prophecy of what God’s people at the end of the Great Tribulation will be shouting for joy as they welcome their king and ours – Jesus Christ.

And in fact, the wording here makes it more likely in my mind that this is a foretelling of what’s to come. These people are going to say that God establishes Jerusalem “for ever.” He hasn’t done that yet. But he is going to. But there’s going to need to be an Antichrist coming on the scene and being destroyed and Christ coming once more in order for this all to be a reality.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Thinking of God in the Temple

Then – based on what the psalmist has overviewed of God’s protecting his people – he reflects on the fact that in the Temple, people are thinking of this deliverance. Verse 9.

9 We [have thought of/have thought on/reflect on] thy [lovingkindness/loyal love], O God,
[in the midst of/within] thy temple.

And listen – without God’s protection, the Temple doesn’t exist. In fact, God ended up ultimately taking the Temple away from his people for their disobedience – twice!

And there’s going to be another Temple. And it too will be destroyed after the Millennium. But then God himself will be our Temple. And we’ll certainly be thinking of his loyal love – his lovingkindness – his chesed.

And even now – though this building we’re in isn’t a Temple – we are! We are temples as individuals. We’re temples all together as a body of believers. And as we sit as Temples in the midst of a Temple – the Church – I trust that we’re considering God’s love “that will not let you go.” It’s why you’re here tonight. It’s why you’re not on the broad path that leads to destruction. It’s because God has protected you as one of his people.

Think of that tonight even as we go to prayer. That God’s love will not let you go. Ever. Even as he’s literally blowing apart the ships of Tarshish – he’s not going to let anything separate you from his love which is in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Unto the Ends of the Earth

And so, the Lord is utterly praiseworthy. His people think so, for sure. But do you know that there will be a time when God’s praiseworthiness is known “unto the ends of the earth?” Verse 10 insists that this will be the case.

10 [According to/As is/is worthy of] thy [name/reputation], O God,
so is [thy/that you receive] praise

[unto/as far away as] the ends of the earth:
[thy right hand is full of/you execute] [righteousness/justice].

So, God is worthy of the praise he receives from his people. And his reputation of protecting his people ensures that he will receive that praise.

And that protection is little known by those outside of God’s people right now. But a time is coming when that praise and reputation will be known “unto the ends of the earth.” Everywhere!

That will be the case when Christ reigns in Mount Zion.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Mount Zion is Happy

And so, in light of the protection it receives, Mount Zion rejoices! Verse 11.

11 [Let mount Zion/Mount Zion] [rejoice/rejoices],
[let the daughters/the towns] of Judah [be glad/are happy],

because of [thy judgments/your acts of judgment].

So, in the Old Testament, as God protected the cities of Judah and especially Mount Zion – the people rejoiced. And as he protected his people, he judged those who would destroy them.

Psalm 48 Commentary: God’s People Unharmed

And you know – despite the epic battle that is in view in this psalm, Mount Zion’s man-made defenses are not really what protected it. I think that’s the thrust of verses 12-13.

12 Walk [about/around] Zion,
and go [round about/around] her: [encircle it!…]
[tell/count] the towers thereof[./!]

13 [Mark ye well/Consider] her [bulwarks/ramparts/defenses],
[consider/go through/walk through] her [palaces/fortresses];
[that/so that] ye may tell it to the [generation following/next generation].

And what are the people to tell the next generation?

They’re supposed to look at all the defenses in the city. They’re supposed to remember the battle that was about to rage against them. And they’re supposed to notice that the defenses of the city weren’t really what protected them. In a way they weren’t even needed.

Man-made defenses are not what saved Israel or what will save God’s people in the Tribulation.

No, it’s God himself. His people are supposed to take note of the fact that when he protects us, it really is ultimately him – and not any sort of man-made means of defense.

And God’s people in this psalm are being invited to look thoroughly through the city and see that whether they had the walls and defenses or not – God truly protects his people.

And when he does protect his people, we need to take note of that and pass that story on to the next generation.

Psalm 48 Commentary: God Protects and Guides

And why again do God’s people come out unscathed? It’s because of our protecting, guiding God. Verse 14.

14 For this God is our God [who is our defender…] for ever and ever:
he will be our guide even unto death.

And we have this God who protects and guides his people.

And for us – yes – as Luther says – the body they may kill. But as another song goes, the flame shall not hurt thee. And as Scripture puts it – we will not see death. Our bodies will die someday – but if we know God’s Son Jesus Christ we will not even see what it’s like to be separated from God – which is the essence of death.

So, as we pray, let’s look forward to our glorious future with this God who protects his people. And let’s praise this God for his protection in our lives even now and – as the last three words of this psalm proclaim – “even unto death.”

Ecclesiastes 5 Message

Ecclesiastes 5 Message: Someone just asked what the message of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 was. So, below is my response.

I have already discussed this section in our Ecclesiastes 5 summary article. But this will go into greater depth on the first seven verses of chapter five of the book of Ecclesiates.

Don’t Talk Too Much

In verses 1 and 2, Qohelet tells us to use few words. And the words we do use need to be well thought-out and few.

In other words, don’t talk a lot. Don’t talk with no thought put into what you’re going to say.

Think about what you’re going to say it. Say it. And then stoop saying it.

Dreams and Talking

Then verse 3 is a proverb about dreams.

People have dreams often because of their many cares and a fool’s voice comes through the multitude of words.

In other words, the fool is not paying attention to verses 1 and 2 above! He’s speaking a lot – with a multitude of words.

Making Promises to God

Then verses 4-6 deal with our vows or promises made to God.

If we’re going to make these vows, they should be thoughtfully made. And once made, they must be kept.

Qohelet tells us to be careful what we promise God. And once we make the promise we need to follow-through on it.

Dreams and Vanity

Then verse 7 is a second proverb about dreams.

Natural dreams can be very vain and meaningless. And then Qohelet goes back to speak of an abundance of talking and he says that both natural dreams and words – when they’re in excess they are worthless.

But then we’re directed to the main point – fear God. And drawing from verses 4-6 we know that part of that fear is keeping promises made to him and not making promises that we can’t or don’t intend to keep.

Helpful?

Is that helpful? Let me know what you think in the comments section or the live chat.

Job 23 Commentary

Job 23 Commentary

Job 23 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 23 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Job 23. The 23rd chapter of the book of Job.

And we need to remind ourselves that Eliphaz’s advice in chapter 22 didn’t help Job. Part of what Eliphaz said was accusing Job of committing secret sins. And the other part was holding out false hope for Job that if he stopped sinning God would bless him.

Neither of these pieces of advice were correct. And so Eliphaz failed to do what he came to do – to comfort Job.

And that was his third chance at trying to comfort Job. And you know what they say – three strikes and … you’re out. And so, that was Eliphaz’s last speech to Job recorded in this book.

Job 23 Commentary: Lamenting Current Situation

But Job’s still trying to make sense of what’s going on in his life. Why God is seeming to punish him. Him – who is a righteous man, no less! Why is all of this happening?

And that’s why Job begins in verses 1 and 2 lamenting his utterly confusing current situation.

KJV Job 23:1 Then Job answered and said,

2 Even to day is my complaint [bitter/rebellion]:
[my stroke/his hand] is [heavier than/heavy despite] my groaning.

And so, Eliphaz promised Job blessings from God if he stopped sinning. And Job hears that and says – Yes, I should be having God’s favor if I’m not sinning against him. And yet even now is my stroke – or the stroke from God’s hand – heavy on me. He hasn’t let up – even though I’m totally innocent.

And so, that leads Job to yearn to be able to locate God and come into his presence.

3 Oh that I knew where I might find him!
that I might come even to his [seat/place of residence]!

And here’s what Job would do if he were to ever be granted audience with God.

4 I would [order/present/lay out] my [cause/case] before him,
and fill my mouth with arguments.

So, Job – as he envisions this fantasy of appearing before God to figure out why God appears to be punishing him for nothing – Job imagines that he would lay out his case with God. He would argue that what God was doing to him was wrong.

And surely Job would be telling God that he hadn’t sinned and therefore God shouldn’t be punishing him!

Because that doesn’t make sense to Job. It doesn’t make sense to him that an innocent man should be given difficulties by God. Even though Job had originally told his wife that they should receive both good and bad from God – Job has had enough of it.

It’s one thing to give verbal assent to a spiritual truth. It’s quite another to internally agree with that truth and submit to it when it’s in action in your life.

Well, so, Job plans – in his mind – that he could come to God and sort of set God straight on some things. And – of course – he’s expecting that God will answer back.

5 I would [know/learn] the words which he would answer me,
and [understand/perceive] what he would say unto me.

So, Job wishfully imagines a time when he comes before God and argues that God should stop doing bad things to him.

Job 23 Commentary: Hope in God’s mercy

And we saw that Job is anticipating an answer from God. But the way he spoke about that betrays an uncertainty in his heart as to how the Almighty will respond.

And so, God’s response to Job’s theoretical arguments is what’s in Job’s mind in verse 6. How will God respond to Job if he were to stand before him? He wonders…

6 [Will/Would] he [plead against/contend with] me with his great power?
No; [but/surely/only] he would [put strength/pay attention] [in/to] me.

So, Job is hoping for mercy from God – should he ever get this chance to stand before his Maker and plead his case.

And yet, it seems like Job hardly views God’s gracious hearing of his complaints as mercy. In fact, in verse 7, Job makes it sound like God is practically obligated to agree with him and take Job’s perspective of the matter.

7 There [the righteous/the upright/an upright person] [might/would/could] [dispute with/reason with/present his case before] him;
[so/and] [should/would] I be delivered for ever from my judge.

And so, if Job is viewing God as his judge – this statement is a little unsettling. Job feels like he needs to be delivered from God – the one who is judging and supposedly punishing him.

Job is putting God in the position of being his adversary. And he’s also in his mind viewing his ways of thinking as wiser than God’s.

This is – of course – why God is going to have to come and question Job at the end of this book about all sorts of things that Job knows nothing about.

Job is getting to the point where he really feels that if he were to be able to bring God to court and sue him for wrongdoing – Job would be vindicated. But what does that mean for God? It means that God would need to adjust his ways to accommodate Job’s supposedly superior wisdom.

And we can all identify and sympathize with Job. At yet – at the same time we recognize that Job is going a little too far here. To assume that we know more than God is simply arrogant. It borders on blasphemy.

When we assume that we’re wiser than God, we are believing lies about him. We’re bringing him down to our level. We must not do this.

When we don’t understand God’s ways, I suppose we have two choices. We can assume that God is wrong. But that’s never the case. And so, the second and correct option is to trust God’s wisdom. Even when it doesn’t make sense to us.

Job 23 Commentary: Despair

So, Job is starting to feel pretty good about his chances of being heard by God. He’s going to appear before God and tell God that he’s not wicked and that therefore he should not be suffering. God will hear Job and relent and stop punishing him as if he were wicked.

Simple enough.

Or is it?

Well, that would be simple enough – except there’s one major problem with Job’s plan.

And it’s this. Job feels like he can’t find God anywhere…

8 Behold, I go [forward/to the east], but he is not there;
and [backward/to the west], but I [cannot/do not] perceive him:

9 [On the left hand/In the north], [where he doth work/when he acts/when he is at work], but I [cannot behold/do not see] him:
he [hideth/turns] himself [on/to] the [right hand/south], that I cannot see him:

So, it’s pretty hard to drag someone into court when you can’t find that person. And that’s how Job is picturing God. He would present his arguments to God. But the problem is – God’s nowhere to be found.

Job 23 Commentary: Confidence

And yet, despite that problem of not being able to find God to discuss matters with him – Job bounces back in his own spirit and recognizes that even though he can’t find God – he knows that God can find him, and that God knows the truth about Job and his righteousness perfectly well.

10 But he knoweth the [way/pathway] that I take:
[when/if] he [hath tried/tested] me, I [shall/would] come forth as gold.

And here are some samples of what Job’s “way” that God knows about has looked like that would give him such confidence if God were to try or test him…

11 My foot hath [held/held fast to/followed closely] his [steps/path],
his way have I kept, and not [declined/turned aside].

So, one of the ways that Job is so confident that God knows his way – back in verse 10 – is because Job’s way has stuck so close to God’s way – in verse 11.

So, Job highlighted in verse 11 how he’s followed God. And the focus was on the feet – so to speak. He talks about his foot holding to God’s steps and not turning with his feet away from God’s way or path.

But now in verse 12, Job is going to focus – not on feet – but on the mouth – and in particular on God’s mouth – as he has obeyed God in his life to this point.

12 Neither have I [gone back/departed] from the commandment of his lips;
I have [esteemed/treasured] the words of his mouth more than my [necessary food/allotted portion].

So, Job is testifying that he has not disobeyed God’s commands. And really – it’s deeper than that. Obedience in Job’s life was merely the fruit of a right estimation of God’s word. He perceived God’s word to be more important than even things that he had a right to – like food.

And by the way, this indicates that at least Job had some access to some amount of divine revelation. But how much of it and which parts of it were available to him are anyone’s guess, I’m afraid.

Well, we just saw Job change his attitude from one of despair into one of some degree of confidence – that if God were to test him, he would come out looking pure.

And that fact should give Job a great amount of joy. But it won’t.

Job 23 Commentary: I can’t change God’s mind

Because, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how right Job is and how confident he is in his righteousness. In the end, Job is now going to express his lament that God refuses to change his mind concerning Job in verses 13 and 14.

13 But he is [in one mind/unique/unchangeable], and who can [turn/change] him?
and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.

14 For he [performeth/fulfills] [the thing that is appointed/his decree] [for/against] me:
and many such [things/decrees] are [with him/his plans].

So, I think that some of us have been exposed to teaching that has caused us to think that verse 14 is a great source of assurance and rest for our souls. As in, God will sovereignly do what he has decreed that he will do in my life and I can rest in his care.

And that concept is true and biblical – God is sovereign. He has plans for you. He will make sure they happen.

However – that’s not what Job is expressing. Job is expressing a bleak dread of what God has in store for him next. In Job’s mind, nothing can change God’s course of action in his life. And that course of action has involved a lot of unexplainable suffering in Job’s life.

And Job is taking note of God’s sovereignty – yes. But he’s not resting peacefully in that sovereignty. He’s grudgingly going along with it – because he has no other choice.

Because in Job’s mind, God’s mind cannot be changed and his course of action is inevitable and miserable in Job’s life.

Job 23 Commentary: I’m afraid of God now

And because of this, Job ends this chapter by declaring that he’s now afraid of God.

15 [Therefore/That is why] [am/would be] I [troubled/dismayed/terrified] [at/in] his presence:
when I consider, I am [afraid/terrified] [of/because of] him.

And I can guarantee you that this isn’t how Job felt back in chapter 1 of this book. He would have rejoiced at God’s presence.

But now, he’s terrified of God. And – by the way – I think it’s interesting that Job was talking so big about meeting God in court and arguing his case before him and everything – and now look at what he says. He doesn’t really want to be in God’s presence. He’s afraid of God.

And yet, he has declared that his redeemer lives and that he’ll see him some day. Job has given numerous others indication of confidence and trust in the Lord.

And so, it shouldn’t surprise us when those who are suffering waiver back and forth in their feelings about God and his dealings in their lives. We’re seeing with Job a kind of back-and-forth dynamic in terms of his perception of God. We should expect no less from brethren now who undergo suffering of any form.

Well, Job says that he’s scared of God. Why? Verse 16.

16 [For/It is/Indeed] God maketh my heart [soft/faint],
and the Almighty [troubleth/who has dismayed/has terrified] me:

So, God makes Job’s heart soft or faint and troubles him.

But what does that feel like to Job? In a word, darkness

17 [Because/But/Yet] I [was not cut off/am not silenced/have not been silent] [before/by/because of] the darkness,
[neither/(blank)] hath [he/(the darkness)] covered [the darkness/deep gloom/thick darkness] [from/(blank)] my face.

Now, this verse is difficult to translate. And so, scholars have a difficult time knowing exactly how to interpret it.

But if we take it as the KJV translates it, then what Job seems to be saying is this. If God would have cut Job off before the darkness – Job wouldn’t be afraid. Why? Because he would be dead.

And on the other hand, God has not covered his face from the darkness. So, God allows Job to experience dark times in his life. And yet, God has not yet allowed those dark times to kill Job. And for that reason, Job fears God.

Job 23 Commentary: Conclusion

So, we’ve seen in this chapter Job responding to Eliphaz – lamenting his current situation, expressing some level of hope that God will be merciful to him, then sinking into despair, but rising to confidence that he will be vindicated, then to lament that he can’t change God’s mind, and finally to express that he fears God – and not the kind of healthy, reverent fear he had back in chapter 1.

In the next chapter we’ll see Job once again declare that wicked men go unpunished – a concept that his three friends disagreed with.