Let’s turn in our Bibles to Job 19 for this Job 19 commentary.
Job 19 Commentary: Taking Issue with Mistreatment
Job begins his rebuttal to Bildad’s speech from back in chapter 18 by taking issue with the mistreatment that he’s experiencing – not only from Bildad, but from all three of these men. And he does this in verses 1-6.
KJV Job 19:1 Then Job answered and said,
2 How long will ye [vex my soul/torment me],
and [break me in pieces/crush me] with words?
3 These ten times have ye [reproached/insulted] me:
ye are not ashamed that ye [make yourselves strange to/wrong/attack] me.
Now, up to now, the order of speeches from these friends has been:
- Eliphaz 1
- Bildad 1
- Zophar 1
- Eliphaz 2
- Bildad 2
And now Job is speaking.
So, I’m not sure if Job is considering each of these men’s speeches against him to be something of a double attack. Or maybe he’s using the number ten as a round number that indicates that they’re doing this often to him. I think that either of these options is acceptable.
But, the point is that Job is getting really tired of these men and their accusatory and inflammatory speeches against him.
Job 19 Commentary: My Sin is None of Your Business!
And so, Job goes on to admonish them that even if he has sinned – like they are all vehemently asserting – that’s none of their business, anyway!
4 [And be it indeed that/Even if/But even if it were true that] I have erred,
mine error [remaineth with myself/lodges within me/remains solely my concern].
Job 19 Commentary: But God is Still Treating Me Wrong!
And so, as Job continues in the realm of “what-ifs” regarding the potential that God really is punishing some sort of sin that’s unknown to him but is well known to God – Job is going to tell his friends that even if his friends could somehow find this sin and prove that Job has committed it – Job still feels like God is treating him unjustly.
5 If indeed ye [will magnify/would vaunt/would exalt] yourselves [against/above] me,
and [plead/prove] [against/to] me my reproach:
6 Know now that God hath [overthrown/wronged] me,
and hath [compassed/closed around/encircled] me with his net.
Job 19 Commentary: How God Has Wronged Him
And so, Job has asserted that God is treating him unjustly. And so, now in verses 7-13 Job is going to outline how he perceives that God has wronged him.
7 [Behold/If], I cry out [of wrong/Violence!], but I [am not heard/get no answer]:
I cry aloud [i.e., for help…], but there is no [judgment/justice].
So, Job’s cries for help are being unanswered by God. Indeed, it feels to Job as if God himself is the one who is committing violence and wrong against him.
Job 19 Commentary: “He Hath…”
And so, Job gives the next six verses to stating what God has done to him. And all of these “he hath” statements that we’ll see in verses 8-13 are Job’s proof that God is treating him wrong – violently – unjustly.
8 He hath [fenced up/walled up/blocked] my way [that/so that] I cannot pass,
and he hath [set/put] darkness [in/on/over] my paths.
9 He hath stripped [me of my glory/my honor from me],
and taken the crown from my head.
10 He [hath destroyed me/breaks me down/tears me down] on every side, [and/until] I [am gone/perish]:
and mine hope hath he [removed/uprooted] like a tree.
11 He hath also kindled his wrath against me,
and he [counteth/considers] me unto him as one of his enemies.
12 His troops [come/advance] together,
and [raise/build/throw] up their [way/siege ramp] against me,
and encamp round about my [tabernacle/tent].
13 He hath put my [brethren/relatives] far from me,
and mine acquaintance are [verily/completely] estranged from me.
And it’s interesting to see the progression of Job’s thoughts here. He spends most of verses 8-13 speaking of what he perceives that God is doing to him to wrong him.
But then at the end of this section in verse 13 he still has his focus on what God is doing to him. And yet, Job is now starting to shift his focus a bit to what other people are doing to wrong him. It’s still all under God’s control and so God still gets the blame. But under God’s sovereignty, Job is now going to start complaining about how men are wronging him.
Job 19 Commentary: How others have wronged Job
And so, we now turn our attention to verses 14-19 where Job outlines how others have wronged him.
14 My [kinsfolk/relatives/kinsmen] have failed,
and my [familiar/intimate] friends have forgotten me.
15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, [count/consider] me for a stranger:
I am [an alien/a foreigner] in their sight.
16 I [called/summon] my servant, [and/but] he [gave me no answer/does not respond];
[i.e., even though…] I [intreated/implore] him with my [i.e., own…] mouth.
17 My breath is [strange/offensive/repulsive] to my wife,
though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body [or, I am loathsome to my brothers…].
18 [Yea/Even], [young children/youngsters] [despised/have scorned] me;
[i.e., When…] I arose, and they [spake against/scoff at] me.
19 All my [inward/closest] friends [abhorred/detest] me:
and they whom I loved are turned against me.
So, you name the relation in Job’s life – and they’ve all treated him poorly. His kinsfolk, friends, housemates, maids, servants, his own wife, young children, closest friends, and those whom Job loved – all of them have turned away from him.
Job is utterly forsaken – both by God and by man.
Job 19 Commentary: Physical Difficulties
And as if those relational difficulties aren’t enough, Job has physical issues to deal with.
20 My bone [cleaveth/clings/sticks] to my skin and to my flesh,
and I am escaped with [i.e., only…] the skin of my teeth.
Job 19 Commentary: An Appeal to the Friends
And this is where Job is going with all of this. He lists all of his troubles – not just in order to complain – but rather, he is appealing for some mercy from these friends of his, who have been showing no mercy.
21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends;
for the hand of God hath [touched/struck] me.
22 Why do ye persecute me [as/like] God,
and are not [satisfied/satiated] with my flesh?
So, as if God’s apparent persecution of Job weren’t enough, these friends have added to his troubles.
Job 19 Commentary: Wishing for a Future Audience
And even though Job appealed to his friends for pity, yet he knows that he’s going to receive none from them. They’re going to be just as harsh to him as others are – and even as he perceives God to be.
And so – since no one is listening to Job’s pitiable cries for mercy – that leads this man to wish aloud for an ability to have his words recorded forever in the hopes that someone along the way in the future might be able to come across Job’s arguments and sympathize with him.
23 Oh that my words were now written!
oh that they were printed [in a book/on a scroll]!
24 That they were [graven/engraved] with an iron [pen/stylus/chisel] and [i.e., with…] lead in [the/a] rock for ever!
And I think it’s ironic that Job got just what he was asking for. The fact that we’re considering his words – that are written in a book – is testimony to the fact that Job got what he wanted. We are listening to and we are sympathizing with this man thousands of years after his words were recorded in this book. He has his audience.
Job 19 Commentary: My Redeemer
And yet, when it comes down to it, we’re not the audience that he really wants. At the very least, we’re not the audience that he really needs.
How do we know that? Well, in verses 25-27 Job identifies the ultimate audience that he’s really looking to hear him. It’s one that he identifies as “my Redeemer” – who is none other than “God” himself.
25 [For/As for me] I know that my redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And [though after my skin worms destroy this body/even after my skin is destroyed],
yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
and mine eyes shall behold, and not another;
though my [reins/heart] [be consumed/grows faint/faints] within me.
So, Job is showing signs of growth here in the midst of his awful trials.
He recognizes that God is sovereignly – and to him, inexplicably – bringing some serious suffering into his life. And that fact shakes him to the core.
And yet, he’s able to – in the very same chapter in which he recognizes this reality – identify this God who is bringing so much difficulty into his life as his “redeemer.”
And Job doesn’t merely recognize who God is to him – his redeemer. He declares that God will stand on the earth on the last day and that even though Job is dead by that point – he will somehow amazingly see God in his flesh!
And for the New Testament believer, it’s difficult to miss that he’s speaking of Jesus Christ. God the Father doesn’t have a body. God the Son does. God the Father is not going to stand on the earth at the last day. But God the Son – Jesus Christ – will stand on the earth at the last day.
So, Job is amazingly prophesying that Jesus Christ is coming. And we can identify this as Jesus’ second coming – that is yet future even to us. But it will surely happen.
But Job also testifies to another teaching found elsewhere in Scripture. And that is the resurrection of believers’ bodies. Job says that there will be a time when his physical body is destroyed. But in the same breath he seems to contradict himself by declaring that he will see God in his flesh.
But isn’t his flesh destroyed? Yes – but believers get new bodies in the resurrection. And we will stand upon the earth at the last day with Christ.
This is amazing. One of the most ancient characters in the known history of our world – and he’s affirming two doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith – and what’s more – they’re realities that haven’t happened yet – Christ’s second coming and the resurrection of the righteous!
So, I think we see Job growing here in his faith. He’s still trying to sort through the troubling realities of his current situation. And yet, he’s also revealing a faith that is deep and orthodox and increasing in some ways.
Job 19 Commentary: To the Friends
But at the same time, I’m afraid that we don’t see this kind of development in Job’s friends.
And so, it’s to these three men – who are in some ways beyond hope – that Job now turns to end chapter 19.
28 But [ye should/should (or if) ye] say,
[Why/How will] [persecute we/we pursue] him,
[seeing/since] the root of the [matter/trouble] is found in [me/him]?
29 Be ye afraid of the sword:
for wrath bringeth the punishments [of/by] the sword,
that ye may know there is a judgment.
And it’s difficult to know what to make of this statement by Job. It sounds like a threat. As if Job were threatening these men with a sword if they continue to accuse him wrongly of sinning and bringing God’s judgement upon himself in that way.
I’m pretty sure that Job’s not threatening to brandish a sword against these men himself. But you never know – especially with a man who is undergoing extreme suffering. But whomever is wielding the sword in Job’s mind – Job is assuring these men that their lack of godly care and consideration for this suffering man will not go unpunished ultimately.
And you can be sure that that kind of threat is not going to go unanswered. And so, we’re going to see Zophar – the last in order of the three friends – give his second lecture to Job in chapter 20.