Job 31 Meaning Verses 24-40

Job 31 Meaning

Job 31 Meaning Verses 24-40
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 31 Meaning: Let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 31. 

The 31st chapter of the book of Job contains Job’s last words of self-defense in this book. 

Last time as we studied verses 1-23, we saw that Job denied lusting, lying, committing sins with his hands, heart, and feet, committing adultery, mistreating his servants, and mistreating the poor. 

And this time in verses 24-40, he’s going to deny committing five other types of sin. And in addition he’s going to challenge God – whom he designates as his “adversary” – to reveal why he’s punishing Job. 

Job 31 Meaning 24-28 Idolatry 

So, as we begin – in verses 24-28, Job entertains the theoretical possibility that he has participated in idolatry. But it’s all theoretical, because Job is going to communicate that he hasn’t done it. 

And he sets this up with a very long “if” statement – spanning verses 24-27. And then he has his “then” statement in verse 28. 

And even at that, he breaks-up his “if” statement into two sub-sections – in verses 24-25 he speaks of worshipping money… and then in verses 26-27 he speaks of worshipping the sun and the moon. 

So, let’s witness Job entertain the idea that perhaps he had worshipped his money in times past. 

24 If I have [made gold my hope/put my confidence in gold],
or have said to [the fine/pure] gold, Thou art my [confidence/trust/security]; 

25 If I rejoiced because [my wealth was great/of the extent of my wealth],
and because mine hand had [gotten/secured so/gained so] much [wealth…]; 

So, Job was a man of great means. We learned that back in the first few chapters of this book. He had numerous cattle and sheep and donkeys and servants. He was the greatest of the men of the east in terms of material wealth. 

Added to that wealth – though – was his righteousness before the Lord. And it’s that righteousness that didn’t allow that wealth to become an idol to him. 

I think that many people – if they were to have the wealth of a man like Job – would let it go to their heads, as we say. But beyond that, I think that these same people would let it go to their hearts. 

There’s a way that money can become our source of confidence. Even as we heard last Sunday from Pastor Kindstedt’s message from Proverbs 18:10-11, the rich man’s wealth can become in his mind a strong city or a high wall. In his mind, his wealth can protect him. And yet, that’s all just “in his mind.” It’s illusionary. 

And Job says that it’s idolatry. 

And that might not be apparent immediately as you first read through this chapter – that Job is speaking of worshipping wealth here. 

But that’s where it’s helpful to try to break-down these sections in this chapter.  

Consider that verses 24-25 have no “then” statement. They have an “if” – but no “then.”  

Well, where’s the “then?” It’s at the other side of verses 26-27. And that means that these two shorter “if” statements are brought together by their common “then” statement at the end of this smaller section. 

So, let’s look at the second area in which Job could have been idolatrous – and where numerous fellow-humans have been idolatrous and worshipful – and that’s in regard to the celestial bodies. 

26 If I beheld the sun when it shined,
or the moon [walking in brightness/going in splendor/advancing as a precious thing]; 

27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed,
or my mouth hath kissed my hand [my hand threw them a kiss from my mouth…]: 

So, again, Job is holding out these things as a possibility. 

Humanity has a way of taking what God created and has given to us as gifts – and turning them into objects of worship! We are so perverse that we see the good gifts – and instead of worshipping the giver of those gifts – we worship the gifts themselves. 

And we already heard Job speak of one of those gifts – money – wealth – material provisions. And as God extends his gracious hand and gives these things to us, we can snatch them away and clutch them and start thinking as if the gifts themselves have some deity to them. 

The same holds true of celestial bodies – the sun and moon and even the stars. Ancient civilizations worshipped the sun and moon. Egypt did. The Mayan civilization did. Numerous cultures at various times in the history of the earth have worshipped these good gifts that God has given us. 

But God gave us these heavenly bodies for times and seasons and to declare his glory!  

But how does mankind use them? As objects of worship.  

It’s sick. 

But it’s not unusual. It’s pretty common – and it was even more common in Job’s day than it is in ours. 

But even though it’s common to worship money and the heavenly bodies – God’s good gifts to us – Job says that the following is the reality about engaging in such activities. 

28 This also [were/would be] an iniquity [to be punished by the judge/calling for judgement/to be judged]:
for I [should/would] have [denied/been false to] the God that is above. 

Worshipping anything besides the true God calls for judgement. Why? Because it involves a denial of the true God.  

And Job says that he hasn’t done that. He has not committed idolatry. And this is one more reason that he feels like he shouldn’t be receiving punishment from God in the form that he’s been experiencing. 

Job 31 Meaning 29-30 Hating Enemies 

But not only has Job not committed idolatry. He also has not hated his enemies. 

Now, the thought that God – before New Testament times – wanted people to hate their enemies is not uncommon.  

In fact, as you know, Jesus mentions that idea in the Sermon on the Mount. He tells the people that they’ve heard it said that they should love their neighbor and – what? And hate their enemy. 

But that supposed command to hate one’s enemy is not found in Scripture – either Old or New Testament. 

And the righteous Job didn’t take that approach to his enemy either.  

29 [If/Have?] I rejoiced [at the destruction/at the extinction/over the misfortune] of [him that hated me/my enemy],
or [lifted up myself/exulted] [when/because] [evil/calamity] [found/befell] him: 

So, if Job had rejoiced in the destruction of someone else – even his enemy – he could perhaps expect retribution from God in the form of his own personal destruction. 

And Job was indeed receiving personal destruction. But the condition that he thinks would earn him that destruction is not present – he hasn’t rejoiced in the destruction of others – and in particular of his enemy. 

Now, Job phrases what he just said as a conditional sentence. And the “if” part was in verse 29. And so, if you’re paying attention you’re looking for the “then” part. But we’re not going to find it. 

In fact, it seems like the only “then” statement that we’re going to find is the last verse of this whole chapter. And so, let me point out something that I think is going on in the larger context of this chapter at this point. 

What we’re going to find before the end of this chapter is that Job laments God’s apparent silence. He says “if this were the case and if that were the case and if the other were the case” and then “dot, dot, dot…” He doesn’t give a “then.” He just goes right into “If only I had someone to hear me! 

And I think that shows a certain desperation on the part of Job. He’s wearing himself out with all of this self-justification. But he feels compelled to continue. 

So, back to the immediate context, Job gave the “if” part of his conditional statement. And he’s not going to give the “then” part. Instead, he’s going to assume a negative answer to his previous question concerning whether he ever rejoiced when his enemy was destroyed – and then magnify what he just asserted. 

Not only has Job not rejoiced and exulted over the destruction of his enemy – but he’s not even asked God to curse those people either. 

30 [Neither have I/No, I have not/I have not even] [suffered/allowed/permitted] my mouth to sin
by [wishing/asking in/asking through] a curse [to his soul/for his life]. 

So, Job was not one to curse even his enemies. He wouldn’t do it even to these friends of his who have proven so unhelpful. 

And so, Job wouldn’t passively seek his enemies’ destruction by secretly rejoicing when they were destroyed. 

And therefore, he certainly would not have actively sought the destruction of any of these people by cursing them, either. 

And that’s how Job ends the consideration of his treatment of his enemies. 

So, Job hasn’t been idolatrous. He hasn’t hated his enemies. 

Job 31 Meaning 31-32 Lack of Hospitality 

And next, Job is going to deny any lack of hospitality to others. 

31 [If/Have?] the [men/members] of my [tabernacle/tent/household] [said not/not said/have never said],
Oh that we [had/could find] [of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied/someone who has not been satisfied with Job’s meat]. 

So, Job seems to be picturing a situation in which the members of his household gather together and discuss something about Job’s food. 

And either they’re saying that they themselves don’t have enough to eat. Or they’re saying that they can’t find anyone who hasn’t had enough to eat of the food that Job provides. 

And it’s difficult to make the call as to which of those two Job is saying – partly because of all the negatives in this verse. If…someone said not…that someone is not satisfied… 

And then of course adding to the difficulty is that Job doesn’t give the “then” part of this statement – which tends to render the “if” statement as more of a question – “Has anyone in my house said, I wish we could find someone who hasn’t been filled with Job’s food.’” 

Whatever the details of the structure of this sentence, it’s apparent that Job is denying a lack of hospitality when taken together with the next sentence. 

No one could say that Job hadn’t provided food for them. And no one could say that Job hadn’t provided lodging for them either… 

32 The [stranger/alien] did not [lodge in the street/have to spend the night outside]:
but I opened my doors to the traveller. 

So, strangers and travelers were always welcome in Job’s house. He provided for those in need. 

That’s the kind of guy that Job was. He shared his food. He shared his home. He was hospitable to all. 

He loved his enemies. He refrained from idolatry and worshiped the true God alone. 

And yet, Job is suffering worse than any of these kinds of people would. And that makes no sense to him. 

Job 31 Meaning 33-34 Covering Sin 

Well, Job goes on to give one more area in which he’s done right in verses 33-34. He’s been truthful about his sin. 

33 [If/Have?] I covered my transgressions as [Adam/men do],
by hiding mine iniquity in my [bosom/heart]: 

And I think this verse is a helpful balance to everything else that Job has said to this point. He’s admitting here to sinning. He’s not claiming sinless perfection – even though you start to get that sense in this chapter.  

But Job is doing what tends to happen whenever a situation becomes totally polarized – when you have one group that is so far over to one side of the issue that they’re really distorting reality in the process. And the other group might want to remain in the middle concerning whatever the issue is. But the tendency is to pull in the opposite direction of that first group – because of how radical they are. 

So, Job would tend to not say very much about his own righteousness. That’s just what righteous people do – you don’t boast of your own accomplishments and such. 

But because Job’s friends have been accusing him so vehemently, now Job is exasperated and finding the need to proclaim his own righteousness. 

And yet – back to verse 33 – Job admits that he doesn’t hide his sin – which indicates that he does indeed sin. But when he does, he doesn’t cover it – like Adam did – like the first man did when he sinned in the garden. 

Job apparently would have been confessing his sin – and offering a sacrifice appropriate to the transgression. And we saw in the first chapter of this book that he offered sacrifice even for his children – just in case they had sinned! Certainly, he was offering for his own sin as well. 

And then apparently in verse 34 Job is going to deny that he was intimidated by family and society in general concerning the confessing of his sin. 

34 [Did/Because] I [fear/was terrified of] [a/the] great multitude,
[or did/and] the contempt of families [terrify/terrified] me,
[that I/and/so that I] [kept silence/kept silent/remained silent], and [went not out of the door/did not go outdoors]? 

Now, I’ll admit that this is a difficult verse to interpret and understand.  

But I think what Job is saying is that he was willing to address and confess and deal with his sin – even when doing so could make him look bad before “the great multitude” of people in his life and before “families” or perhaps tribes of people who might mock him and impugn his character. 

No, Job would not hide his sin – he wouldn’t keep silence and stay inside. He was willing to confess his sin and offer the sacrifices prescribed. No matter what anyone else thought. 

OK, so Job has not committed idolatry, he’s loved his enemies, he’s been hospitable, and he’s been open and honest with God and man about his own sin. 

And all of this Job is using to appeal to God that the kind of suffering that God has sent into Job’s life is unwarranted. Job doesn’t feel like he deserves this suffering that feels like punishment from God. 

Job 31 Meaning 35-37 Job Challenges God 

And it’s at this point where Job has had enough. He has talked himself to a point where he is really frustrated with God’s total lack of response to all of Job’s appeals concerning his righteousness – which he is wanting God to take note of and realize that he doesn’t need to punish Job anymore. Look! He’s righteous! 

And in the middle of Job’s pointing out his living in accordance with God’s desires and standards – and I say “the middle” because he does have one more area that he wants to talk about – but before that, he’s compelled to cry out to God and demand that God reveal his accusations against him. 

35 [Oh that one would/If only I had someone to] hear me!
behold, [my/here is my] [desire is/signature/tau][that/let] the Almighty [would answer/answer] me [!],
[and/if only I had] that mine adversary had written [a book/an indictment]. 

So, this whole chapter has basically served as Job’s defense of himself. He even presents his tau – the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which is translated by the KJV as “desire.” So, Job says “I’ve talked and talked and given my reasons for why I should not be punished by God. And so here at the end – as men do with most documents – I am giving my last affirmation – my tau – my signature to this imagined court document against God that seeks to restrain him from punishing me anymore.” 

But it’s a little silly to be defending yourself against an accusation… that has never been officially leveled against you! 

And that’s why Job is now asking for the “book” that God – as Job’s adversary – or the indictment against Job that surely – in Job’s mind – God has written somewhere. He’s asking for that “document.” 

And that’s because Job is under the impression that God is punishing him. Job has not taken into account the fact that suffering doesn’t need to be punishment. The end result of those two realities might be the same – but the motive of the one who’s bringing the pain is different. 

When God brings punishment into a person’s life, assumed in that arrangement is that the person did something wrong. When God brings suffering into your life, there’s no such assumption – you may be doing everything right like Job is. But Job doesn’t recognize that distinction yet. 

And so, Job says that God is his adversary. And that’s interesting because when we think of that term “adversary” we think of Satan – and that’s the meaning of his name in Hebrew – adversary. 

But to Job – God is acting as his adversary. God is the one sending the suffering – which he incorrectly views as punishment.  

And in reality, God did ultimately send the suffering on Job. He’s the one who challenged Satan with Job’s testimony. He’s the one who told Satan later that Satan moved him to touch Job. And so, Satan is responsible for challenging God to bring suffering into Job’s life. And yet, God was ultimately the one to bring that suffering into Job’s life and to bring Job up to Satan in the first place. 

Well, if God were to ever give Job this indictment against him that would explain why Job is being punished by God, then this is how Job would respond. 

36 Surely I would [take/carry/wear proudly] it [upon/on] my shoulder,
and bind it [as/like] a crown [to me/on me]. 

And it’s at this point where I do wonder if Job is sort of challenging God – almost gloating of his innocence. He’s speaking of what he would do with this fictitious indictment against himself. And he says that he would wear it proudly on himself and display it for all to see. And that’s probably because he’s so confident in his own innocence. 

And Job is ready to express that confidence directly to God as Job now imagines him meeting with God to discuss his innocence. 

37 I would [declare unto him the number/give him an accounting] of my steps;
[as/like] a prince [would I/I would] [go near unto/approach] him. 

So, Job is ready and willing to stand right before God’s presence and tell him exactly what he’s been doing. Job is so extremely confident in his righteousness that he’s willing to come to God and declare all that he’s done. 

And Job imagines coming to God in a very bold and triumphant manner. He would approach God like a prince would do – full of confidence, no fear, claiming his right to inform God of his own conformity to everything that he understands that God desires in one of his human creatures. 

And yet – of course – whatever Job might say to God would be no surprise to the Almighty. God already knows Job to be righteous. But Job doesn’t know that God knows that he’s righteous – and has even told Satan so. 

Job is assuming that God thinks he’s sinning – and that’s why Job is experiencing this suffering – which he interprets as punishment. 

Job 31 Meaning 38-40 Abusing Tenants 

Well, Job has one more area to address before he finishes his self-defense. 

He wants to deny that he has abused any tenants that may have lived on his land. 

38 If my land [cry/cries out/cried out] against me,
[or that/and] [the furrows/its furrows/all its furrows] [likewise thereof complain/weep together/wept together]; 

But why would Job’s land cry out against him – as it were? Why would it complain or weep? 

Because of the way that perhaps Job would have treated those who rented that land from him… 

39 If I have eaten [the fruits thereof/its fruit/its produce] without [money/paying],
or have caused [the owners thereof/its owners] to [lose their life/die]: 

So, Job is speaking of his land. And yet, he now speaks of owners of that land. Well, he’s the ultimate owner, but he would have loaned-out the land to others to care for it. This is a practice that happens to this day – not only in the area of agriculture but even in the landlord/tenant relationship in the housing market. 

And Job is bringing up one possibility as to how he treated those tenants. He could have been like so many others who take advantage of his tenants. I mean – after all – one might think – the land is mine and I’m letting these folks live on it. Therefore, I can take their stuff and they should be fine with it. Or even worse – some in history have apparently caused those tenants to lose their lives. Talk about a bad relationship with your landlord! 

So, Job is saying that he could have acted this way toward those who were leasing his land. Other people have done this throughout history. 

And yet – Job is totally opposed to that kind of abuse – and here’s what he says that he would deserve if he were to behave himself in this way. 

40 [then…] Let [thistles/briars/thorns] [grow/sprout up] [instead/in place] of wheat,
and [cockle/stinkweed/weeds] [instead/in place] of barley.  

So, Job pictures a fitting punishment for his abuse of his tenants as his good crops being replaced with worthless weeds. 

And with the ending of his last defense, the text closes by noting the following. 

The words of Job are ended. 

So, Job has denied engaging in activities that would render him deserving of punishment from God. He’s not lusting, lying, sinning with hands, heart, or feet, committing adultery, mistreating his servants, mistreating the poor, committing idolatry, hating his enemies, being lax in the area of hospitality to strangers, covering his sin, or abusing his tenants. 

These activities – if he were to engage in them – would surely make him guilty and deserving of some form of retribution. 

But since Job hasn’t committed these crimes, he really can’t understand why God is – in his mind – punishing him. Because – as Job believes – God punishes evil. God should be rewarding Job – but he’s not doing that anymore. 

So, God’s ways don’t make sense to Job. 

And even though Job has sought to make sense of God’s ways, what he really needs to do is to trust God’s wisdom in his circumstances. 

And there’s a young man who’s been listening in on this whole conversation of Job and his friends. His name is Elihu and he feels like he’s going to be able to help Job – if not understand God’s ways – then perhaps help him toward trusting God’s wisdom. 

And we’ll hear from him next time. 

Job 31 Commentary Verses 1-23

Job 31 Commentary

Job 31 Commentary Verses 1-23
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 31 Commentary: Have you ever found yourself in the position of needing to give a defense of your actions? Or even a defense of your character?

It’s difficult to do. And one thing that makes it so difficult is that you’re not wanting to boast of yourself. You’d rather let the lips of another man praise you and not your own. You’re wanting to be humble and modest.

Even the Apostle Paul experienced this uncomfortable need to defend himself in 2 Corinthians and you can tell by the phrases he chooses there that this was not his desire – to be speaking so highly and glowingly of himself.

And this is what we see the biblical character Job having to do in Job chapter 31. So, let’s turn our attention to that chapter. Job 31.

Job chapter 31 records Job’s last words of self-defense. He’s had to defend himself against the accusation that his friends have been making that he’s secretly sinning.

Job’s friends believe that God works in this world in such a way that good is always and only rewarded and sin is always and only punished – in this life. And so, the friends see what’s happened to Job and all of his suffering and they assume that God is punishing him for some sort of sin.

At the same time, Job also has believed generally the same thing that his friends believe. But he has the advantage of knowing that he has not committed some sort of sin that would warrant God’s punishment.

And that causes great confusion in Job’s soul. God’s ways aren’t making sense to him.

And so, in this chapter – chapter 31 – Job is basically calling to God’s attention the fact that he’s not done anything deserving the kind of treatment that God has been giving him.

In fact, in the first 23 verses of this chapter we have six different areas that Job wants to bring up in which he’s been righteous and undeserving of God’s punishment.

Job 31 Commentary 1-4 Lust

And so, Job starts off in verses 1-4 by claiming that he’s been free of sexual immorality – even in the form of lusting after women.

KJV Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes;
[why/how] then [should/could] I [think upon/gaze at/entertain thoughts against] a [maid/virgin]?

So, Job had made a promise – as it were – with his eyes. And that promise involved “a maid’ or a young unmarried woman – or, really, all young unmarried women.

And it comes as no surprise that this sin that Job is speaking of is a big problem for men.

There’s a reason – that as the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is clarifying and intensifying the Old Testament Law – where he’s trying to make us see that it’s not just sins of the body that matter – but sins of the heart are also just as damning – that Jesus intensifies the commandment against adultery – which most people would take to be physical – and he clarifies that even the lust that would lead to adultery is itself adultery.

The current so-called #MeToo movement where numerous women are coming forward and claiming sexual abuse by men who held some power and influence in their lives is another testament to the fact that what Job is addressing is a tendency and temptation that is common to man.

It’s a common sin, then. And the amazing fact is that Job had an uncommon approach to this temptation.

He made a promise with his eyes not to lust after young women. And he’s implying that he had kept that promise with himself. And – for Job – he’s saying that this is one reason that he doesn’t deserve the kind of treatment that he’s receiving from God.

And I like Job’s wording that he uses here and would advocate it to everyone here who struggles in this area of lust – to think to yourself whenever the temptation arises – “Why then should I think upon” this area of temptation?

Ask yourself “why?” In the heat of the moment – “Why should I do this?

And I’m not saying that asking this question alone is going to solve all of your problems, but I think we’d do well to approach temptation with Job’s mindset on it – “why?

Well, Job has an answer to his “why?” question. He’s going to answer the question of what happens if someone does indulge in that temptation and gives in and sins with lustful thoughts.

Here’s what Job says of people who constantly give-in to lusting with their eyes.

2 [For/And/Then] what [portion/lot] of God is there from above?
and what [inheritance/heritage] of the Almighty from on high?

In other words, a person who constantly gives in to breaking his promise with his eyes to lust after young women – well, Job wonders aloud what he’ll receive from God.

And he doesn’t wonder for long. In verse 3, he answers the question posed – what does a person who constantly gives-in to lust receive from God?

3 Is [it…] not [destruction/calamity/misfortune] [to/for] the [wicked/unjust]?
and [a strange punishment/disaster] [to/for] [the workers of/those who work] iniquity?

So, this kind of lusting with the eyes is characteristic of the “wicked” and “workers of iniquity.” And Job says that it’s common knowledge that these individuals meet with destruction and disaster from God. That’s their portion.

Now, we do need to remind ourselves that in Christ all of our sins are forgiven – even the sin of lusting. God has promised in the New Covenant to not remember our sins and lawless deeds ever again. And we praise him for these wonderful merciful realities.

But it would be dishonoring to God to pretend as if he’s now fine with us lusting with our eyes. The Apostle Paul warns us not to use our liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.

So, while we rejoice in God’s free forgiveness of our sins in Christ – we can’t approach this area of life with a “who cares?” kind of attitude. We need to be serious about being pure individuals – both physically and mentally – with our bodies and our minds. In Christ, we are now free to live lust-free lives.

And Job was a pure man – he was pure with his eyes as he says here – and later on he’ll address the matter of his body not being involved in immorality either.

And because of this purity – but then the matter of God seeming to punish him – Job speaks into the air as-it-were and laments that God doesn’t seem to take notice of his attempts to remain pure.

4 Doth not he see my ways,
and [count/number] all my steps?

So, I think he’s appealing to God. God has seen the reality of Job’s claim in verse 1 – that he’s kept his covenant with his eyes and has not lusted after young women.

And I think Job is saying both that God knows the reality of what Job is claiming – but also, Job is sort of complaining that God doesn’t seem to take notice of this purity in Job’s life. Job’s still being punished by God – even though he’s been able to do what many men fail at – to resist lusting with their eyes.

Job could also be giving here a reason for his concern for not lusting with his eyes. If Job looks at young women with lust, won’t God look at him and realize what he’s doing? And that thought is unsettling to Job.

Job 31 Commentary 5-6 Lying

Well, next, in verses 5 and 6, Job claims that he hasn’t lied. And he presents this in terms of a conditional clause – and “if-then” statement.

5 If I have walked [with/in] [vanity/falsehood],
or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;

Then…

6 Let me be weighed [in/with] [an even/accurate/honest] [balance/scales],

And I’ll stop there before he gets to his second statement.

But what Job is saying so far in these two verses is he’s assuming for a moment that he’s lied. “If I’ve lied…” Well, if he’s lied, then he says that God can weigh him with scales that don’t lie – an even balance.

And if someone lies, and God weighs him on a right balance, then you’d expect that this man would be found to be a liar.

But that’s not what Job says in the last line of verse 6. In the last line of verse 6, Job can’t seem to keep up the theoretical possibility that he’s a liar. So, when he’s weighed by God, this is what will happen – not that he’ll be found guilty, but…

[that God may/and let God/then God] [know/will discover] mine integrity.

So, Job portrays it like God is going to discover something new that he didn’t know. God is going to discover that Job is a man of integrity.

And I think this goes along with the thinking of Job that God is maybe a little mistaken in his assumptions about Job.

Why else would God be punishing a righteous man? Because – again – Job is under the assumption that God only and always rewards good and only and always punishes sin.

God is punishing the righteous Job. Therefore, God is…wrong?! In need of being informed?? God needs to weigh Job on truthful balances – and then perhaps finally God will see that Job is unworthy of this suffering in his life.

That’s what Job is saying.

So far then, Job has vehemently asserted that he has not been immoral or deceitful.

Job 31 Commentary 7-8 Et Cetera

And next in verses 7 and 8, Job declares that he’s innocent of all sorts of general sins.

7 If my [step/footsteps] hath [turned/strayed] [out of/from] the way,
and mine heart [walked after/followed/has gone after] mine eyes,
and if any [blot/spot] hath [cleaved/stuck] to mine hands [thus defiling them…];

So – if what Job has done with his feet or his heart or his hands has been unfaithful to God…

8 Then let me sow, and let another eat;
yea, let my [offspring/crops/“what sprouts up”] be [rooted out/uprooted].

So, Job is trying to prove to both his friends and his God that he’s done right – and one way to do that is to utter this kind of a curse on oneself. People tend to resort to calling down some awful calamity upon themselves if this-or-that is the case or is not the case – and they do that in order to try to prove that they’re innocent.

And that’s what Job is doing here and has been doing. “If I’ve sinned, then let me sow – and instead of me eating what I’ve sown” – which is how it normally should work – “let someone else eat it.

And even worse – whatever Job plants he says can be – not eaten by others – but rather totally uprooted if he’s guilty of sin in the realms of feet, heart, or hands.

Job 31 Commentary 9-12 Adultery

So, after contending that he’s innocent of lust, lying, and sin in general, Job returns to the matter of sexual purity.

And he goes a step beyond what he addressed in verses 1-4. In verses 1-4 he was denying that he lusted in his heart with his eyes. But now in verses 9-12 Job is going to speak of the logical conclusion of lust in the heart – and that is physical adultery with the wife of one’s neighbor.

And he says that he’s never done that.

9 If mine heart have been [deceived/enticed] by a woman,
or if I have [laid wait/lurked/lain in wait] at my neighbour’s door;

So, Job paints the picture of a possibility – that of being drawn-in or enticed by a woman – and then taking it one step further and actually pursuing that woman – even to the doorstep of that woman’s house – and not caring that that woman is actually the wife of your neighbor!

That’s something that people do! You and I know people who have done that.

And in Job’s mind, verse 10 is the kind of repercussion that a man like this deserves.

10 Then let my wife [grind/turn the millstone] [unto/for] another [man…],
and let others [bow/kneel] down [upon/over] her. [have sexual relations with her…]

And, what we just heard is distasteful. It’s shameful.

Job is saying that if he has been unfaithful to his wife – then it would serve him right if his wife was taken by another man.

And it seems that he’s envisioning a concubine situation. In the first line of verse 10 he speaks of his wife grinding grain for another man – making his food – taking care of his need to eat.

And that second line speaks of Job’s wife being involved in intimate physical relations – not just with one other man – but he says “others” – which again is all very shameful and not the most pleasant thing to be speaking of in a mixed audience or any audience, really.

But in Job’s mind – in this life it’s tit-for-tat – you sin and your punishment should fit the crime – lex talionis.

And that’s what’s so difficult for Job. He’s looking at his life and seeing punishment that would fit a crime of a tremendously heinous magnitude. But the problem is that he’s not guilty of it.

In the context of verses 9 and 10, he has not been adulterous. And even though we don’t have explicit reason to believe that any of these things have really happened to Job’s wife – although we haven’t heard anything about her since the first few chapters of this book. But even though it seems like these things probably didn’t happen to Job’s wife – the suffering that Job is experiencing seems to be just as painful as experiencing something like verse 10 happening in Job’s life.

Well, both physical adultery and the punishment earned by adulterers is all so odious that Job needs to take the next two verses to speak of how horrendous this whole hypothetical situation really is.

11 For [this is/that would be/I would have committed] [an/a] [heinous/lustful/shameful] [crime/act];
[yea/moreover], it is an iniquity to be [punished by the judges/judged].

So, if anyone thinks that the punishment that Job claims is appropriate for adultery is over-the-top, Job wants to argue his point. Adultery is heinous and it’s a crime and it’s iniquity and it’s something to be judged.

And he also acknowledges that should he ever commit adultery, he’d be playing with deadly fire.

12 For it is a fire that [consumeth/devours even] to [destruction/Abaddon],
and would [root out/uproot] all mine [increase/harvest].

So, adultery – as Job testifies – would destroy both him and his substance.

And the point that Job is trying to convey is not just that he hasn’t committed adultery – but even that the thought of it is completely abhorrent to him.

And so, Job adds this sin as yet another one that he is not guilty of.

So, Job has vehemently denied lusting after young women, lying, sin in general, and adultery.

Job 31 Commentary 13-15 Servants

And next in verses 13-15 Job is going to deny doing wrong to his servants – even when they had a complaint against him.

13 If I [did/have] [despise/disregarded] the [cause/claim/right] of my manservant or of my maidservant,
when they [contended/filed a complaint/disputed] [with/against] me;

So, Job once again calls our attention to something that’s rather common among our human race. And it’s actually twofold: first, to despise or think little of those who serve us or whom we perceive to be lower than us in some way – and second, to especially discount what this kind of person would say – especially when it relates to them complaining about us.

I think many of us know what it is at work – to make some proclamation just like your boss would – but no one reacts to it the same way as they react to him. You’re lower than the big boss – and so it’s very natural for people to discount what you have to say. Even though you’re saying the same exact thing as the big boss is saying – and everyone would listen to him when he says it. This is unfortunately very natural.

And then of course, the natural way of reacting to someone complaining against you is to get offended and to tell them off or to ignore them.

But Job says that he didn’t take advantage of his position. He heard people out – even when they had problems with him – even when they were his very own servants!

Nobody was forcing him to act that way. That’s just the kind of a man he was and still is at this point.

But if he were to despise his servants – especially the ones that complain to him – here’s what Job acknowledges would be the case concerning his standing with God.

14 What then [shall/could/will] I do when God [riseth up/arises/confronts me in judgement]?
and when he [visiteth/calls me to account/intervenes], [what/how] shall I [answer/respond to] him?

So, if Job ignored the “little people” in his life – then how could he – a little person in God’s eyes – have any hope of God listening to him.

Again, Job is looking at things as if every action has an equal reaction – every sin has a corresponding punishment – every act of righteousness has a corresponding blessing from God.

So, if Job despises those lower than him, then he could expect to be despised by God as one who is lower than God.

And when it comes down to it – when Job puts himself in the position of God in a way – in the sense of him being higher than his workers like God is higher than Job – well, it makes Job acknowledge that when it comes down to it – he and his servants are all on the same level – unlike his position in relation to God…

15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him?
and did not [the same…] one fashion us in the womb?

In other words, all men are created equal. Ultimately, how do we differ from one another? Job is expressing what he’s always believed – that though he was wealthy and incredibly blessed – yet, he’s just like anyone else – he’s just one of us – he puts his pants on one leg at a time.

So, Job has not lusted, lied, sinned in various and sundry ways, committed adultery, or thought little of his servants.

Job 31 Commentary 16-23 Poor and Needy

And the next thing that Job is going to deny ever doing is mistreating the poor.

So, he’s treated his servants equitably. And he’s also treated the poor and needy with much grace and kindness.

But he’s going to say it from another angle and with a number of conditional “if” clauses…

16 If I have [withheld/kept/refused to give] the poor [from their/what they] desire,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;

Now, verses 16-21 contain a large “if” statement. The “then” comes in verse 22.

And so, Job starts this “if” section by giving the possibility that he hasn’t given the poor what they desire and has caused the eyes of the widow to fail – or that he’s caused widows to give up hope and caused them to weep.

And he doesn’t give the appropriate punishment for such a crime – as I’ve said – until verse 22.

So, until then, Job continues to fill-out how he could have sinned against the poor – but of course he didn’t do it…

17 Or have eaten my morsel [of bread…] myself alone,
and the [fatherless/orphan] hath not eaten thereof;

So, Job could have been the type to withhold his food from the orphan without sharing. He could have consumed all of what he had on himself.

But then the hypothetical gets to be too much for Job and he declares in verse 18 that verses 16 and 17 are totally preposterous in light of Job’s life.

18 ([For/But] from my youth he [was brought/grew] up with me, as with a father [i.e., that’s how Job raised him…],
and I have guided [her/the widow] from [my mother’s womb/infancy];)

And there’s probably some hyperbole at work here. Job speaks of his caring for the orphan and widow from his youth – no, actually from his mother’s womb!

Job is exaggerating for effect and to highlight that caring for the needy has been his continual practice for as long as he can remember.

And so, now that Job has set the record straight on his treatment of the orphan and widow, he’s going to throw out the possibility that he’s been unrighteous to those who lack proper clothing.

19 If I have seen [any/anyone about to] perish for [want/lack] of clothing,
or [any poor/a poor man] without [covering/a coat];

So, in this situation where a person is lacking clothing and is about to die because of it, Job indicates what kind of treatment this man would have received from him…

20 [If his/whose] [loins/heart] [have/did] not [blessed/thank] me, [but they did…]
[and if/as] he [were not warmed/warmed himself] with the fleece of my sheep; [but he was…]

So, in the case of people who lacked clothing – Job came to the rescue with clothing made from the fleece of his own sheep – and the result was that this kind of person blessed and thanked Job.

And Job is going to address one more situation regarding the poor and needy – and that is, how he used to treat them in judicial matters…

21 If I have [lifted up/raised] my hand [to vote…] against the [fatherless/orphan],
when I saw [my help/I had support] in the [gate/court]:

So, Job is envisioning a time when in theory he could have voted against an orphan – one with no power – and what could have encouraged Job to do so was that he had support from others in the “gate” – where all the judicial proceedings took place.

Job would have had support to vote against the powerless for his own gain. He had support among those in power. And by contrast this orphan wouldn’t have had any such power. There’s not a thing that the orphan could do to stop Job if Job wanted to be that kind of guy.

But here’s the kind of punishment that Job thinks that kind of theoretical action would call for…

22 Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade,
and mine arm be broken [from the bone/off at the elbow (or socket)].

So, it’s the arm that would have been raised in a vote against the orphan. And so – according to Job’s tendency to assign an appropriate punishment to the crime – he envisions the appropriate punishment as being his own arm falling off.

And Job finishes this sub-section explaining why he acted with kindness and equity toward the poor.

23 For [destruction/calamity] from God was a terror to me,
and by reason of his [highness/majesty] I [could not endure/can do nothing/was powerless].

It’s just like the author said back in chapter 1. Job “feared God.” He knew God’s desire regarding the poor and needy. And he knew that if he didn’t carry out God’s merciful desires for the poor that he himself would be in trouble.

Job regarded God’s demands with sobriety and a desire to do them in his life.

And Job is going to go on in the rest of the chapter to speak of how he hasn’t committed idolatry or hated his enemy or withheld things from others or hid his sin or been unjust with his property. And he’s even going to lament God’s treatment of him and call God his “adversary.”

We’ll study all of that next time, Lord-willing.

Job 30 Summary

Job 30 Summary

Job 30 Summary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 30 Summary: So, in Job chapter 29 we witnessed Job wishing for the “good old days.” He was reminiscing on all of the wonderful things that God used to do for him. And then he was contrasting what his life had become.

But he didn’t get too much into the details of how his life had changed for the worse. He left that until this chapter – chapter 30.

So, in Job chapter 30 we’re going to witness Job explaining to his friends how bad his life has become.

Additionally, we’ll also see Job complaining directly to God regarding what Job regards as God being cruel to him.

Job 30 Summary 1a

So, to begin, Job wants to let everyone know that he is being mocked by those younger than him.

KJV Job 30:1 But now they that are younger than I [have me in derision/mock me],

And of course, this is a bad thing – the younger mocking the older. And yet, I think we’re a bit desensitized as to how awful it really is because of our popular culture that promotes rebellion against every authority. But to Job and his culture, this kind of behavior was just completely unacceptable – and it’s likely that everyone would have agreed. Well, maybe everyone except these younger folks that are mocking Job.

Job 30 Summary 1b

And the really frustrating part of this for Job is that even the fathers of these kids – Job is now going to admit – were worthless fellows! And now their sons – even more worthless than they – are mocking him.

whose fathers I would have disdained [too much…] to have [set/put] with [the dogs of my flock/my sheep dogs].

So, Job is using greater to lesser logic. If the fathers of these kids who now mock him were too insignificant to be put with the dogs that watched Job’s sheep in the old days, then how much worse are the sons of these men?!

So, they were insignificant. And furthermore, the fathers of these young mockers were weak.

2 [Yea/Indeed/Moreover], [whereto/how even] might the strength of their hands profit me,
in whom [old age/vigor/strength] [was/had] perished?

So, these fathers were too old and feeble for their supposed strength to be of any use to Job in the old days when he wouldn’t have even employed them to work with his sheep dogs.

And, not only were these men contemptible and weak, they were also scrawny as a result of going hungry.

3 [For/From] want and [famine/hunger] they were [solitary/gaunt];
[fleeing into/who gnaw/they would gnaw] the [wilderness/dry ground/parched land] in former time desolate and waste.

So, these men from Job’s old days were weak and skinny and hungry. Job in times past – in his glory days – was far better-off than they were.

And these men who never could have worked for Job were so hungry – as we just saw – that they would go out to find whatever sustenance they could from the salt marshes.

4 Who [cut up/pluck] mallows by the bushes, [by the brush they would gather herbs from the salt marshes…]
and [juniper roots/the root of the broom shrub] [for/was] their [meat/food].

And whatever the exact references Job makes to various plants – the point is clear. These men that Job never would have dreamed of employing would have to scrape up their food from some pretty far-off places – because they were so worthless.

And that’s because Job says that these men from the old days were blights to their communities and were thus driven far from civilization.

5 They were [driven forth from among/driven from/banished from] [men/the community],
([they/people] [cried after/shout against/shouted after] them as [after/against/they would shout at] a thief;)

So, Job paints this picture of these men being chased off by society. And he’s not saying these things so that we would feel bad for them. Job is indicating and testifying how bad and worthless these men really were. They were bad guys.

And – as Job and his three friends would have believed – the fact that bad things were happening to them indicated the kind of people they were, generally.

So, because their communities drove these men of old away from them – they were forced to dwell in uninhabited waste places.

6 [To/So that they] [dwell/had to live] in [the clifts of the valleys/dreadful valleys/the dry stream beds],
in [caves/holes] of the [earth/ground], and [in/of/among] the rocks.

7 Among the bushes they brayed [i.e., like animals…];
under the nettles they [were/are] [gathered/huddled] together.

So, Job says that these men from the olden days – because they were rejected for their worthless ways – congregated in desolate places.

And these men themselves were children of men of similar character to themselves.

8 They were [children/sons] of [fools/senseless], [yea/and], [children of base men/nameless people]:
they were [viler than/scourged from/driven out of] the [earth/land]. [i.e., with whips…]

So, the fathers of the fathers of these children that Job references all the way back in verse 1 were fools and base and nameless. They were completely unnoteworthy – and even worse – according to Job.

Job 30 Summary 9

And even though these young men and their fathers are all so worthless and vile – yet, Job has been put in a position in which they feel free to mock him – this once-great man.

9 And now [am I/I have become] their [song/taunt song],
yea, I [am/have become] their byword.

So, this has been why Job has been talking about these young men’s fathers at such great length. He’s been setting this up for us. The fathers of these young men were so awful and vile. And certainly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as we say. And so, these young men have to be worse than even their deadbeat dads.

And yet – despite that fact – Job – who was once so favored and blessed by God – Job is now being mocked by these people.

And the reactions of these young men range from them just ignoring Job to them actually spitting in his face.

10 They [abhor/detest] me, they [flee/stand] [far/aloof] from me, [i.e., maintaining their distance…]
and [spare/refrain/hesitate] not to spit in my face.

And the question must be asked – why are these young men even able to abuse Job like this? The answer that Job cannot avoid is that God has made this happen.

11 Because he hath [loosed/untied] my [i.e., tent…] cord, and afflicted me,
[they/people] [have also let loose the bridle before me/throw off all restraint in my presence].

So, like a horse that’s been unbridled, these young men show no restraint in their behavior toward the suffering Job. They mock him and spit in his face. And this is all happening because God is allowing it – no, causing it to happen – from Job’s perspective.

Job 30 Summary 12

And then, Job is going to turn his attention back from what God is doing that’s causing these bad things to happen to him – to calling to mind once more what these young men are doing to abuse him.

12 [Upon/On] my right hand rise [the youth/their brood/the young rabble];
they [push away/thrust aside] my feet, [they drive me from place to place…]
and [they raise up/build up] against me [the ways of their/their ways of] destruction. [siege ramps…]

13 They [mar/break up/destroy] my path,
they [set forward/profit from/succeed in] [my calamity/destroying me],
[they have/with] no [helper/assistant].

14 They [came upon me/come in] as a wide [breaking in of waters/breach]:
[in/amid] the [desolation/tempest/crash] they [rolled themselves upon me/roll on/come rolling in].

And I must admit that these claims that Job is making seem unrealistic or exaggerated. But I think we can assume that these things have actually happened to Job – they’re just not reported as happening in the narrative of this book.

So, young men are mocking him – spitting at him – resisting him in various ways. It seems like as Job has been destitute and weakened, youth have been taking advantage of him in various ways. And Job isn’t able to stop them.

Job 30 Summary 15

And of course it’s not just young men that are challenging Job and making his life hard.

There are other non-human realities that Job is going to complain about now.

15 Terrors are turned [upon/against/loose on] me:
they [pursue/drive away] my [soul/honor] [as/like] the wind:
and my [welfare/prosperity/deliverance] passeth away as a cloud.

16 And now my soul [is poured/pours itself] out [upon/within] me;
the days of [affliction/suffering] have taken hold upon me.

17 My bones are pierced in me [in/by] the night season:
and my [sinews/gnawing pains] [take no rest/never cease].

So, soul, mind, and body are all in turmoil for Job.

Job 30 Summary 18

And so, Job now is once again going to turn his discontentment with his situation toward the one whom he knows to be ultimately responsible for his misery – and that is God.

18 [By/With] [the great force/great power] of my disease [is my garment changed/my garment is distorted/my garment is grasped by God]:
[it/he] bindeth me about as the collar of my [coat/tunic].

So, Job is picturing God as if he were grabbing Job by the collar with great force and almost strangling him.

And Job will use another metaphor – God is throwing him into the mud.

19 He hath [cast/flung] me into the [mire/mud],
and I [am become like/have come to resemble] dust and ashes.

So, Job is filthy and he blames God for that.

And in the midst of all of this disgrace, Job feels as though God has totally abandoned him.

20 I cry [unto/out to] thee [i.e., for help…],
and thou dost not [hear/answer] me:

I stand up,
and thou [regardest me not/turn your attention against me/only look at me].

So, God only ignores Job in his suffering.

But I ask – has God ignored Job? Is God unaware of what Job is going through?

Not at all! God himself has done these things to Job. He knows all about it. And – in a way that makes no sense to Job or us – God cares about what’s happening to Job.

But Job doesn’t see it that way.

21 [Thou art/You have] become cruel to me:
with [thy strong hand/the might of your hand/the strength of your hand] thou [opposest thyself against/persecute/attack] me.

So, God is cruelly attacking Job. That’s how it seems to him.

And then Job pictures God tossing him into the air in a tempestuous storm.

22 Thou [liftest/pick] me up [to/on] the wind; thou [causest/make] me to ride upon it,
and [dissolvest/toss me about] [my substance/me in the strorm].

And what else could all of this eventuate in except for death?

23 For I know that thou [wilt bring/are bringing] me to death,
and to the [house appointed/house of meeting/meeting place] for all [the…] living.

So, Job is convinced that God is going to kill him in his miserable condition.

Job 30 Summary 24

And that causes Job to start arguing that he really doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment.

After all, it’s not right to kick a man when he’s down.

24 [Howbeit/Yet/Surely] [he will/one does] not stretch out his hand [to the grave/in a heap of ruins/against a broken man],
though [they/he] cry [out for help…] in his [destruction/disaster/distress].

And Job looks back on how he’s treated others who were in a situation similar to the one he’s in now.

25 [Did/Have] not I [weep/wept] for [him that was in trouble/the one whose life is hard/the unfortunate]?
was not my soul grieved for the [poor/needy]?

And yet, as Job is looking for this kind of mercy and help from God, the Almighty seems unwilling to give it.

26 When I [looked for/expected/hoped for] good,
[then evil/trouble] came unto me:

and when I [waited for/expected] light,
[there/then] came darkness.

Job 30 Summary 27

And then Job ends this chapter seeming to focus on the physical effects that his trial is having on him.

27 My [bowels/innards/heart] [boiled/are seething/is in turmoil], [and rested not/and cannot relax/unceasingly]:
the days of [my…] affliction [prevented/confront] me.

28 I [went/go about] [mourning/blackened] [without the sun/without comfort/but not by the sun]:
I [stood/stand] up, and I [cried/cry out] [for help…] in the [congregation/assembly].

Job is out beyond the realm of civilization.

29 I [am/have become] a brother to [dragons/jackals],
and a companion [to owls/of ostriches].

His body is burned and feverish.

30 My skin [is/turns/has turned] [black/dark] [upon/on] me,
and my [bones/body] [are burned/burn/is hot] with [heat/fever].

And as a result, whatever Job may have used in times past to rejoice is used solely for mourning now.

31 My harp [also/therefore] is [turned to/used for] mourning,
and my [organ/flute] [into/to/for] the [voice/sound] of them that weep.

So, Job’s life is very hard. Not only are people against him – but so is his God. The God hes worshiped for so long.

And Job will continue his defense in chapter 31.

Job 29 Summary

Job 29 Summary

Job 29 Summary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 29 Summary: I think that many or probably all of us have heard people wistfully speak of the “good old days.” Maybe you yourself have engaged in that kind of speech.

And I think the older we get, the more likely we are to longingly think of times gone by. And one reason for that is simply that the older we get, the harder – generally – life is for us. The more trials we have.

And as we have more and harder trials – our past with its relative ease looks more and more attractive.

And I believe it’s this kind of dynamic that Job expresses in the 29th chapter of the book named after him. So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 29.

And here in the 29th chapter of Job, Job takes this whole chapter to lament that God isn’t treating him like he used to. He longingly looks back on his “good old days” for 25 verses.

Job 29 Summary Verse 1

And in verses 1-10 Job reminisces over all the blessings that he used to have – and he wishes that that were still the case with him.

KJV Job 29:1 [Moreover/And/Then] Job [continued/took up] his [parable/discourse/speech], and said,

2 Oh that I were as in months [past/gone by/now gone],
as in the days when God [preserved/watched over] me;

So Job is lamenting that God – in his estimation – isn’t preserving and watching over him. And so, what we have throughout this entire chapter is Job looking back fondly at his life before chapters 1 and 2 of this book – before Satan comes before God and God points out Satan to Job.

Job 29 Summary Verse 3

Well, what was happening in Job’s life when God was preserving and watching over him? Job says that that was a time…

3 When his [candle/lamp] shined upon my head,
and when by his light I walked through darkness;

So, Job remembers this time in his life as one marked by light.

And of course, Job is not speaking of physical light. He’s not lamenting the fact that the Sun no longer shines on him.

But Job is picturing the way God treated him in the old days and he’s expressing the feeling he has about it. In his recollection, it’s as if God was lighting his way. God was expelling darkness all around him.

And of course, by contrast, Job at this point in his life is feeling like he’s walking around in darkness – confusion – not knowing where the next step will lead him.

Job 29 Summary Verse 4

And then Job continues and he admits that the days before his awful trial were extremely productive and marked by close communion with God.

4 As I was in [the days of my youth/the prime of my days/my most productive time],
when the [secret/intimate friendship] of God was [upon/experienced in] my [tabernacle/tent];

Job 29 Summary Verse 5

And Job continues to speak of the relational closeness that he experienced before his trial – both with God – and now he even remembers his beloved departed children.

5 When the Almighty was [yet/still] with me,
when my children were [about/around] me;

Job 29 Summary Verse 6

And, as Job moves on, he claims that his life before this trial of his was characterized by “fatness.”

6 When [I washed my steps/my steps were bathed] with butter,
and the rock poured me out rivers of [olive…] oil;

And we tend to think in our day that fat is bad. But that’s just not how Job or the rest of Scripture presents things like butter and oil.

Instead, these foods are a sign of richness – a sign of smoothness – of abundance. It’s a good thing in Scripture.

In contrast, Job is characterizing his life during this trial as lean and course and gaunt.

Job 29 Summary Verse 7

And Job continues to reminisce about what his life was like before his trial. And in verse 7 Job starts to remember his place of prominence in the social and judicial realms.

7 When I went out to the gate [through/of] the city,
when I [prepared/took/secured] my seat in the [street/public square]!

So, in Job’s time, the city gate is where business was conducted. It’s where disputes were heard and judicial rulings were given.

And Job was an integral part of that environment. He took his seat in that setting – meaning that he was in some way in charge of the proceedings.

Job 29 Summary Verse 8

And Job admits that everyone – no matter how young or old – respected and revered him – that is, before he moved his operations from the city gate to the city’s trash heap.

8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves:
and the [aged/old men] [arose, and stood up/would get up and remain standing].

So, that was the reaction from young and old to Job. From the young – fear. From the old – a deep reverence and respect.

And I’ll admit that it’s hard to know if Job is making us of hyperbole here. Or he might just be engaging in wishful thinking that isn’t quite accurate at this point after so long a time of suffering.

So, this is Job speaking. He’s a fallen human. He’s a righteous man – but capable of dishonesty. And even if it’s not that bad – Job is capable of a phenomenon that’s very common among us. And that is – when remembering the past – remembering only the good and forgetting practically all of the bad – especially when your current situation is largely negative and difficult.

But thankfully, we don’t need to spend a lot of time guessing and surmising as to whether Job is speaking the absolute truth here. We know that what he’s saying is exactly how he feels. And that’s really all that’s important to know in this particular chapter.

Job is not giving us a theological lecture here. He’s simply describing how he perceives his past to be. And we’re going to see that what he ultimately wants to do – in the next chapter – is to contrast how things used to be with how things are right now for him.

Job 29 Summary Verse 9

Well, so, it’s not just young and old that respected and revered Job in the old days. Even princes and chief men of his society stood in awe of this man – as Job recalls.

9 The [princes/chief men] [refrained/stopped] talking,
and laid their hand on their mouth.

So, Job is picturing himself as something of a chief of the chief men. He was preeminent.

And that goes along with what we heard in chapter 1. This man was righteous. He was “the greatest of all the men of the east.”

And so, wise men even would be awed by Job’s wisdom. He was the best of the best. The brightest of the brightest. He knew it – God knew it – everyone knew it.

Job 29 Summary Verse 10

And Job continues to furnish evidence of that fact in verse 10.

10 The nobles [held their peace/voices were hushed/voices fell silent],
and their tongue [cleaved/stuck] to [the roof of their mouth/their palate].

So, it’s like no one could answer Job in the days before his trial.

And of course – contrast that to what Job has been experiencing for the last twenty-some chapters of this book. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar are certainly not holding their peace. Their tongues are doing anything but cleaving to the roof of their mouths.

They all suspect Job of secret sin. No one has any respect for him any more.

So, Job has taken verses 1 through 10 to reminisce on how good God used to be to him. And of course, he’s lamenting the fact that God now seems to be doing just the exact opposite in his life.

Job 29 Summary Verses 11-17

And you know people in this life who receive this kind of response. Think of Kim Jong Un the ruler of North Korea – how do you think people respond when he walks into a room in the capital Pyeongyang?

Or what about some of these henchmen for the Islamic State – who rose to prominence based upon the degree of their brutality.

Do you suppose that young and old – wise and naïve all respond when these people come into their presence? I think so.

But why? And is the reason that people fear and respect brutal dictators and bloodthirsty Islamic clerics the same reason that people used to respond to Job the way that they did?

Well – we don’t need to guess. Because Job addresses in verses 11-17 why people responded to him the way they did and why he believes he received the blessing that he did before his trial began.

Job 29 Summary Verse 11

And Job introduces this section with verse 11 where he sets us up for what he’s about to tell us.

11 When the ear heard [me/these things], then it blessed me;
and when the eye saw [me/them], it [gave/bore] witness to me:

And you see in the KJV the word “me” in italics. But what that’s admitting is that that word isn’t in the Hebrew. But it’s something they added to make sense of the statements that Job is making.

But what others (the NET Bible) have suggested is that what Job is actually saying that “the ear heard” and “the eye saw” is not Job himself – but the godly righteous deeds that he admits to performing in the next several verses.

Job 29 Summary Verse 12

And so, Job starts this list of his historical righteous deeds that he thinks account for why God blessed him formerly.

12 [Because/For] I delivered the poor that cried [for help…],
and the fatherless, [and him/(blank)] that had none to help him.

So – here we have it. Job wasn’t eliciting fear and respect from others because of his violent despotic tendencies. He was feared and respected because he cared for the needy. And we can assume that he was doing this in some of his official legal and judicial capacities at the city gate.

In Job’s day, as it still is the case in many places in this world, those who have the least power have the least access to justice. But Job didn’t work that way. He feared God and turned away from evil. And one of the many results would have been that he delivered the poor that cried for help – even though he could have done otherwise.

Job 29 Summary Verse 13

And because Job acted with such integrity, he pictures it as if dying blessings were uttered upon him.

13 The blessing of [him that was ready to perish/the dying man] came upon me:
and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.

So, both the one who was in the process of dying and the one who would shortly be left behind in that relationship were blessing Job. And this was surely due to the various righteous things that Job did on their behalf.

Job 29 Summary Verse 14

And that’s what Job says in verse 14. He lived and operated in such a way that he could say that he actually wore righteousness as if it were clothing.

14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me:
my [judgment/justice] was as a robe and a [diadem/turban].

Job 29 Summary Verse 15

And again, Job reminds the ways he treated those who were needy in his society in verse 15.

15 I was eyes to the blind,
and feet was I to the lame.

So, he helped these individuals. On his watch he would not allow them to be abused and mistreated – as much as was in his power.

Job 29 Summary Verse 16

And Job continues to testify to his own blameless behavior toward the needy in verse 16.

16 I was a father to the [poor/needy]:
and the [cause/case] [of the person…] which I knew not I [searched out/investigated].

And I think that second assertion that Job makes is not him claiming that he was a good lawyer – like, he really looked into every case he took. I don’t think that’s it.

I think Job is saying that even if he didn’t know – not the cause – but the person – he would search out and investigate that person’s case – the case of the person he didn’t even know. He wouldn’t immediately dismiss it. He would do his best to make sure that person got justice.

Job 29 Summary Verse 17

So, Job has been speaking a lot about justice. He’s been asserting that he’s done so much to protect the innocent.

But – you know – justice is two-sided. There’s the matter of defending and protecting the innocent. But on the other side of the equation is prosecuting the perpetrators. And it’s that side to which Job turns in verse 17.

17 And I [brake/broke] the [jaws/fangs] of the wicked,
and [plucked/snatched away/made him drop] the spoil [out of/from] his teeth.

So, Job executed justice in his former days – and that’s why he believes God was blessing him.

And – by the way – I think Job is pointing to these realities to defend himself against his friends and their accusing him of secret wickedness against the poor and needy. He also probably has in mind that God maybe needs to hear this defense that he’s issuing – since it seems that God is treating him as if these things weren’t the case anymore.

Job 29 Summary Verse 18

But, because Job perceived that his situation was so good in the old days, he admits in verses 18-20 that he thought it would last forever.

18 Then I [said/thought],

I shall die in my [nest/own home],
and I shall multiply my days as the sand.

So, Job thought that he would die at home – not off at war or as a result of being punished for any crime. He would die in his nest – evoking images of a bird’s nest with its attendant comfort and security.

And then he thought that his days on this earth would be numerous – just like sand on the seashore.

Job 29 Summary Verse 19

And then I think that verse 19 is a continuation of Job’s self-talk – it’s a continuation of the matters concerning which he was extremely confident before God sent him this trial.

19 My root [was spread out by/is spread out to/reaches] the waters,
and the dew [lay/lies] all night upon my [branch/branches].

So, Job is comparing himself to a tree. And water in the form of rivers and dew would be very welcome to such a tree. Without water, trees die.

But Job had no concern for those depressing realities. He was just like a vibrant healthy tree soaking in all of the wonderful water – water from the earth in the form of rivers and water from the sky in the form of dew.

Job 29 Summary Verse 20

And then Job finishes this retelling of what he said in his prosperity in verse 20.

20 My glory [was/is ever/will always be] fresh in me,
and my bow [was renewed/ever new] in my hand.

So, Job thought that he would always be glorious – uniquely excellent. And in a related thought, he believed that his bow would never grow old – that is, his ability to defend and to conquer. That thing that’s made of wood and subject to becoming dry and old – Job thought that would never happen.

That’s what he’s been telling us in these last few verses.

Job 29 Summary Verses 21-25

Then Job closes this chapter by continuing to reminisce on how good life was for him in the old days before his trial from God.

Job 29 Summary Verse 21

And once again, Job focuses on the reactions that other people had to him. And I think he’s again wanting to remind these friends of how men who are more excellent than they are used to treat this man that they now despise.

21 Unto me men [gave ear/listened], and waited [silently…],
and kept silence [at/for] my [counsel/advice].

So, people listened for Job to speak. And then when he spoke and gave them advice they kept quiet.

Job was such a man that people sought advice from, then – which is always a sign that at least others perceive a person to be wise.

Job 29 Summary Verse 22

And then Job continues to describe how people used to love to hear him speak with a metaphor that’s really kind of humorous if you picture it literally – like most metaphors are…

22 After [my words/I had spoken] they [spake not again/did not respond];
and my [speech/words] [dropped/fell drop by drop] upon them.

So, once again Job references the fact that people just didn’t respond after Job declared something. He was so wise that no one had anything to add. They wouldn’t disagree with him – they’d make no contradictions – like these three friends are doing to him now.

And then the metaphor – his words were like refreshing rain drops to the people.

Now, let me say that we might feel kind of “rained-out” – like we’ve had enough of all the rain already. We’re just coming off an unusually wet spring. Farmers’ fields in the area are oversaturated with rain to the point of puddles standing in the fields.

So, erase that picture from your mind, and imagine the surface of the moon. Because oftentimes, that’s exactly what the ground looks like in the Middle East – with the exception of a few small shrubs here and there in the furrows where the minimal water that does fall tends to flow.

People in the Middle East are far less likely to get tired of rain than we are. And so, Job is saying that people would receive his advice and judgements on matters just like people who need water to survive would welcome a rain shower.

Job 29 Summary Verse 23

And that’s what Job goes on to say more explicitly in verse 23.

23 And they waited for me as [people wait…] for the rain;
and they opened their mouth wide as for the [latter/spring] rain.

So, in addition to giving water for their crops, Job’s contemporaries would be looking for rain for the purpose of drinking water. And if they didn’t get it they’d thirst to death. And that’s how Job compares his speech – it’s as if the people didn’t get his counsel, they would perish!

Job 29 Summary Verse 24

And if that’s how people perceived Job – almost as a super-human kind of character whose advice was as valuable and sought-after as life-sustaining rain, then it’s no surprise as to the reaction that he claims he would often get from people if he showed them some form of attention.

24 If I [laughed on/smiled at] them, they believed it [not/hardly];
and the light of my countenance they [cast not down/did not cause to darken].

So, even though common people couldn’t believe their good fortune to have the legendary Job smile at them, yet they warmly accepted that smile. In that sense, they didn’t “cast down” that demonstration of friendliness.

Job 29 Summary Verse 25

And then I think that the last verse in this chapter has Job sort of summarizing what he’s just been saying.

25 I chose out [their way/the way for them], and sat [as their…] chief,
and dwelt as a king [in the army/among his troops],
[as/ I was like] one that comforteth the mourners.

So, Job was advising people and basically choosing the way that they would go. He’s leading them like a king would lead his people. And he was merciful to the needy – he comforted the mourners.

And that last point is exactly what Job wants from these friends – some comfort. That’s why they came – but they have completely abandoned their original intent and are now just accusing Job of some nebulous and speculator wrongdoing.

Job 29 Summary Conclusion

And on top of that, all of these people – and even the lowest of them – whom Job used to treat right – well, they’re treating him poorly now that he’s the one in need. And we’ll see Job lament that fact next time.

Job 28 Commentary

Job 28 Commentary

Job 28 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Job

 
 
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Job 28 Commentary: It must have been a few years ago that I lost my wallet for over a week. I thought it was in the car, but I searched there several times with no luck.

I was about to start calling my financial institutions and having them cancel my cards and things like that – when I checked one last time thoroughly and systematically that car. And I found it – there it was – under the passenger side seat.

I had looked there before. But apparently not hard enough.

Certain things in this life are easy to find. While, others are quite difficult.

But in Job, chapter 28 we’re going to have Job tell us that there’s one thing that’s utterly impossible for mere mortals to find. And that thing is wisdom.

So, let’s turn our attention to Job, chapter 28.

Now, we saw in the last chapter that Job was in agreement with his friends that – indeed – God does show his power against wicked men by punishing them.

But that causes Job to consider that he himself is receiving the fate of these wicked men – but he himself is righteous.

Job – a righteous man – even by God’s testimony – is suffering like the wicked are supposed to. And that makes no sense. He can’t understand God’s ways.

And as the message of this book goes, When We Can’t Understand God’s Ways, We Must Trust His Wisdom in Our Circumstances.

But in this chapter that we’re going to be studying now, Job admits that God’s wisdom is really difficult to find.

Job 28 Commentary | Mankind can find some amazing things…

And what’s really interesting is that humankind has shown an amazing ability to find things that would seem to be nearly impossible to discover.

And so, this is what Job marvels at for the first 11 verses of this chapter – that there’s very little that’s hidden from human endeavor to discover it.

Job begins by speaking of mining precious metals.

KJV Job 28:1 Surely there is a [vein/mine] for [the silver/silver],
and a place for gold [where they fine/to refine] it.

Yes, there is a place for silver and gold. And what we need to recognize is that that place is not usually out in the open. You usually need to search for it and dig it up.

And Job goes on to highlight human endeavor to excavate these metals.

2 Iron is taken [out of/from] the [earth/dust/ground],
and [brass/copper] is [molten/smelted] [out of the/from] [stone/rock].

And so, verses 1 and 2 are Job pointing to the existence of hard-to-find metals.

And now, he’s going to focus on mankind’s ability to find these metals in the earth.

3 [He/Man] [setteth/puts] an end to darkness,
and searcheth out [all perfection/to the farthest limit/the farthest recesses]:

the [stones/rock/ore] [of darkness/in gloom],
and [the shadow of death/deep shadow/the deepest darkness].

This is describing the darkness that’s found in caves and other places in which mining activities are carried out. It’s dark down there – but mankind puts an end to that darkness and finds what its looking for.

And Job goes on to speak more of spelunking in caves as people search for previous metals.

4 [The flood breaketh/He sinks a shaft] [out/far] from [the inhabitant/habitation/where people live];
[even the waters forgotten of the foot/in places forgotten by travelers]:

they [are dried up/hang and swing to and fro/dangle and sway],
[they are gone away/far] from men.

Now, the word behind “flood” is translated elsewhere as “valley” 23 times. It’s then something like a rift or break in the earth. And the word behind “breaketh out” is also translated as “break in” or “break down.” And one more – “dried up” some other versions take to be describing the mining process of men dangling by ropes in the mine.

Whatever the particular details, Job is talking about mining and how amazing it is that humans can do this.

And then Job goes on to state that the appearance of the earth can conceal all this activity that he’s been saying goes on inside of it.

5 [As for the earth/The earth], [out of/from] [it/which] cometh [bread/food]:
and under it is [turned up/overturned] as it were [by…] fire.

And this could be speaking of the reality that we know of as plate tectonics – how the earth is made up of moving sliding plates gliding apparently on molten rock. That could be what Job is describing.

Otherwise, he’s just comparing the peaceful appearance of the earth above ground to what he’s been describing regarding what happens underground.

And then Job wants to point to the fact that the earth – and especially the area under the top soil – contains noteworthy treasures!

6 [The stones of it/Its rocks] are the [place/source] of sapphires:
and it [hath/contains] dust of gold.

The “it” in this verse of course is speaking of the earth. The earth contains sapphires and gold.

Then Job is going to – for several verses – emphasize the fact that what humans are able to discover within the earth is really quite unknown to most of the animal kingdom. Humans are in a unique position to access this exquisite treasure.

7 [There is a path/The path/A hidden path] which no [fowl/bird of prey] knoweth,
and which the [vulture’s/falcon’s] eye hath not seen:

So, no bird has seen the treasure hidden in these mines.

Further, no beast has seen it either.

8 [The lion’s whelps/Proud beasts] have not [trodden/set foot on] it,
nor the fierce lion passed [by/over/along] it.

And then Job turns from considering the fact that the treasure within the earth is hidden from animals. And he now is going to meditate on the ability of mankind to do this kind of work – of digging down into the earth and finding amazing treasures.

9 He putteth forth his hand upon the [rock/flint] [to work…];
he overturneth the mountains [by/at] the [roots/bases].

And so, in a sense, man is being like God here. God can overturn mountains in his power. And on a very smaller scale – mankind can do that, too.

And here’s more of what Job is marveling that man can do with the earth.

10 He [cutteth/hews/has cut] out [rivers/channels] [among/through] the rocks;
and his eye [seeth/have spotted] every precious thing.

And finally, mankind is able to hold back and conceal – and to reveal.

11 He [bindeth/dams up/has searched] the [floods from overflowing/streams from flowing/sources of the rivers];
and [the thing that is hid/what was (is) hidden] bringeth he [forth to/out into the] light.

So, Job is asserting that humans are able to discover the most fascinating and hidden things in this creation. That’s his point in verses 1 through 11.

Job 28 Commentary | But mankind is unable to find wisdom…

But Job isn’t merely concerned about gold and sapphires and mining. He’s not marveling at mankind’s abilities just to marvel.

No – Job has led us through all that people can find on this earth in order to magnify one thing that none of us can find. And that’s wisdom.

12 But where [shall/can] wisdom be found?
and where is the place of understanding?

Because we know where to find gold. You just dig with your hands and your tools in the right place in the earth and there it is. But where would you direct someone to find wisdom if you were Job with no Bible as we have it today? You can’t direct people to a location on earth where they can dig out or even buy wisdom and understanding.

And that’s because it’s not from “around these parts”!

13 [Man/Mankind] knoweth not [the price thereof/its value/its place];
neither [is/can] it found in the land of the living.

So, wisdom is not found in this world – and certainly not within the earth – like with jewels and such.

And so, who can discover how much it’s worth? If you want to figure out how much a certain piece of jewelry is worth, you bring it to an appraiser. He’ll look at it, examine it, and tell you based on his experience how much it’s worth.

But how do you get wisdom appraised? It’s real. And it’s incredibly valuable. But you can’t bring it in to your local jewelry store and let the man behind the counter estimate its value. You can’t appraise the physical value of something that you can’t find.

And it’s not just that mankind cannot find wisdom – Job even presents inanimate locations on the earth as testifying to the fact that even they can’t find wisdom and understanding within themselves.

14 The [depth/deep] saith,
It is not [in/with] me:

and the sea saith,
It is not with me.

And even if someone did know where it could be found, you would never have enough money to purchase it.

15 It cannot be [gotten/given] [for/in exchange for] [pure/fine…] gold,
neither [shall/can] silver be weighed for the price thereof.

And then Job is going to go on about how there’s nothing that can help you purchase wisdom – not even the precious metals and jewels that he’s already discussed.

16 It cannot be [valued/measured out for purchase] with the gold of Ophir,
with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.

And that’s because wisdom is unrivaled in value to anything else that a man can get.

17 The gold and the crystal cannot [equal/be compared with] it:
and the exchange of it shall not be for [jewels/articles/a vase] of fine gold.

And we just celebrated Mothers’ Day and were reminded of the virtuous woman whose worth was far above rubies. But a woman who fears the Lord is to be estimated in that way because the thing that she possesses – wisdom – is also valued like that.

18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of [pearls/crystal/jasper]:
for the price of wisdom is above [rubies/pearls].

And Job goes on to extol wisdom by telling us what cannot purchase it.

19 The topaz of Ethiopia [shall/cannot] [not equal/be compared with] it,
neither shall it be [valued/purchased] with pure gold.

And then Job utters what seems to be a refrain in this chapter because we saw a statement that was very similar in verse 12.

20 [Whence/From where] then cometh wisdom?
and where is the place of understanding?

Only in verse 12, Job asked where wisdom can be found. Here in verse 20, he asks from where it comes. But every other word is exactly the same – and really, even the two ideas of finding something and knowing where it comes from are almost identical.

And Job’s question is legitimate – because according to Job, no one knows the answer.

No creature or bird knows where wisdom comes from.

21 [Seeing/Thus/For] it [is hid/has been hidden] from the eyes of [all/every] living [creature…],
and [kept close/concealed] from the fowls of the air.

And not even destruction and death know where wisdom comes from – where its source on the earth is.

22 [Destruction/Abaddon] and death say,
We have heard [the fame thereof/a report of it/a rumor about where it can be found] with our ears.

So, mankind can find awesome things in this world. But no one can find wisdom. That’s what we’ve been taught by Job so far through verse 22.

Job 28 Commentary | Only God has wisdom…

No one can find wisdom. That is, no one – except for God.

And so, Job is going to make that point from verses 23-28 – God alone has wisdom.

23 God understandeth the way [thereof/to it],
and he [alone…] knoweth the place thereof.

He knows wisdom’s way and place. He knows how to access it.

Why? How can God know this when no one else does?

24 For he looketh to the ends of the earth,
and [seeth/observes] [everything…] under the [whole heaven/heavens];

So, God sees the whole picture. He’s not ignorant of anything. There’s nothing he doesn’t see.

God alone knows and perceives and sees everything. And therefore, he alone knows wisdom.

And so, Job seems to be using the terms wisdom and understanding to describe the ability to see the whole picture and act accordingly. Or to be in tune with reality – as only God knows it.

Job doesn’t have this ability. He doesn’t know what’s going on. God’s ways are confusing and making no sense to him.

God has wisdom – and Job feels like he himself is totally lacking it.

And then Job wants to go back to the beginning of creation and recall how God established wisdom.

God did this when he created the winds and the waters.

25 [To/When he] [make/imparted/made] [the weight/weight/the force] [for/to/of] the winds;
and he [weigheth/meted out/measured] the waters [by measure/with a gauge].

And that’s the same time in which he created the rain and thunder.

26 When he [made a decree/set a limit/imposed a limit] for the rain,
and a [way/course/path] for the [lightning of the thunder/thunder bolt]:

And what did God do at the time he created these forces – wind, water, rain, and thunder? He did what no man can do – he assessed the value of wisdom and scrutinized it.

27 Then did he see [it/wisdom], and [declare/assessed the value of] it;
he [prepared/established] it, yea, and [searched it out/examined it closely].

And so, that’s how Job pictures God coming to be acquainted with wisdom.

And then God communicated that to his human creatures.

28 And unto [man/mankind] he said,

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to [depart/turn away] from evil is understanding.

So, as humans we can’t find wisdom as we find other physical things. We need God to give it to us.

And that’s when God says – you want wisdom? Fear me. You want understanding – a rough equivalent of wisdom? Then turn from evil.

And we bring that to Job’s situation. Job is having great difficulty recognizing what reality even is anymore. Reality as Job knew it was that if he lived right, God would bless him. That’s what Job believed and its apparently what many others believed – at least if his three friends are any indication of the popular thinking of the time. Everyone was thinking that God rewards moral goodness with blessings. That was reality in their minds.

But Job is still doing good. But he’s not being blessed. It seems like God’s angry with him and punishing him. Job still is fearing the Lord and departing from evil. Why is this not seeming to help Job live in light of reality anymore?

And the answer to that of course is that reality is bigger than Job’s small view of how God works in the world. God is bigger than that. Reality is broader than any of our human minds can comprehend.

And while Job is ready to admit that in creation at-large, he’s not ready to trust that God is acting according to wisdom – the broad and complete view of things – in Job’s situation.

And that’s why next time we’re going to see Job wistfully relive all the blessings that once were his as he sought to fear the Lord.