Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible
JOB'S FINAL STATEMENT (JOB 27-31):
JOB AGAIN SPEAKS OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
"And Job again took up his parable, and said,
As God liveth who hath taken away my right,
And the Almighty who hath vexed my soul
(For my life is yet whole in me,
And the Spirit of God is in my nostrils);
Surely my lips shall not speak unrighteousness,
Neither shall my tongue utter deceit.
Far be it from me that I should justify you:
Till I die, I will not put away mine integrity from me.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go:
My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
Let mine enemy be as the wicked,
And let him that riseth up against me be as the unrighteous."
The next five chapters, beginning here, are Job's summary and restatement of all that he has been saying, As Dr. Hesser noted, "Bildad had just finished (Job 25); it was Zophar's time to speak. Job waited a moment for him to begin; but when it became clear that all of his friends had been silenced, Job `took up his parable,' that is, `his weighty discourse.'"
"As God liveth who hath taken away my right, ... who hath vexed my soul" (Job 27:2). Such words as these must be understood, not as any peevish criticism of God, but as the acknowledgment that, in the ancient sense, God does all that he allows. Men are not blaming God, when speaking of some terrible calamity, they say, "The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job's oath that he is speaking the truth is found in the words, "as God liveth"; and his thus swearing by the living God is an eloquent testimony that Job does not attach any moral blame to God for what has happened to him, however impossible he finds it to understand. Heavenor called this, "The most extraordinary form of oath in the Scriptures." He is swearing by the very God who has permitted all of his misfortunes. We cannot agree with Hesser that, "Job was making a mistake" in these words.
"The Spirit of God is in my nostrils" (Job 27:3). This is a declaration that Job is speaking by the Spirit of God; and this whole paragraph is an emphatic affirmation by Job of his integrity, of his keeping it till death, and that what he says is the truth. Blair agreed with this. "It suggests that he spoke with the authority of God."
Andersen's summary of this opening paragraph is that, "Job had already said that his friends' allegations were nothing but falsehoods (Job 21:34), and he had challenged them to prove him a liar (Job 24:25). Both of these thoughts come together here in this paragraph."
"All of the challenges of his friends have only served to crystallize and clarify Job's thoughts; and what he now says exhibits calm assurance and absolute certainty."
WHAT IS THE HOPE OF THE GODLESS?
"For what is the hope of the godless though he get him gain,
When God taketh away his soul?
Will God hear his cry
When trouble cometh upon him?
Will he delight himself in the Almighty,
And call upon God at all times?
I will teach you concerning the hand of God;
That which is with the Almighty I will not conceal.
Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it;
Why then are ye become altogether vain."
"Will he delight himself in the Almighty, and call upon God at all times" (Job 27:10)? Job here points out the fundamental difference between himself and the wicked, that difference being simply that Job delights in the Almighty and calls upon God at all times. Such things the wicked do not. "Job's friends should have recognized that in Job's persistent crying to God there was the proof that their identification of Job with the godless was false."
"I will teach you concerning the hand of God" (Job 27:11) Job here proposes to teach his friends some basic truths concerning God. Why do they need teaching? "They have become altogether vain" (Job 27:12). They have wickedly judged Job; and throughout this whole section Job emphasizes the fate of the wicked, because by their evil words against Job they have themselves joined the forces of wickedness. Thus his friends need the warning.
Of course, this chapter is disputed, some claiming that it is actually a mislabeled speech of Zophar, not pertaining to Job at all. Franks called Job 27:7-23 of this chapter, "The missing third speech of Zophar"; and Watson also accepted the authorship of Zophar for this passage as, "By far the best explanation of an otherwise incomprehensible passage." Anderson noted that this device of making the passage the speech of Zophar, "Has enjoyed considerable prestige among scholars for two centuries."
Nevertheless, this writer rejects this explanation as being unproved and unprovable. Furthermore, there is not anything that Job said in this chapter that is inconsistent either with the truth or with what Job had previously said. The critical scholars have simply misunderstood what Job is saying here, and throughout the Book of Job.
"Job's prediction here of the judgment of God upon the godless is not a belated conversion to his friends' point of view .... Nowhere has Job denied the justice of God; and it is not inconsistent for him to affirm it here." In fact, throughout Job's speeches, the one thing that has separated Job from his friends is their neat little system of making Job a gross sinner because of his sufferings. The two great errors in their allegations were (1) that God punishes all wickedness in this life, and does so immediately after the sins are committed, and (2) that any sufferer, from what ever disease or calamity, is suffering the just reward of his sins. Job never denied either that righteousness tends toward happiness or that wickedness tends in the other direction.
Dr. Hesser stressed these same facts as follows: "Job believed that the wicked will pay for their sins, that sins lead to misery; but what he did not believe was that neat little formula in which exactly the right amount of suffering is immediately dealt out to all sinners. There is therefore no good reason for assigning this passage to Zophar instead of to Job." Jamieson was in full agreement with this.
Matthew Henry also noted another reason why Job in this passage spoke so dramatically about God's judgment of the wicked. "It was fittingly brought in here as a reason why Job would not deny his integrity." We have already noted that it was likewise a fitting warning to his friends who had so wickedly accused him.
HERE JOB SPOKE OF THE ULTIMATE FATE OF THE WICKED
"This is the portion of a wicked man with God,
And the heritage of oppressors, which they received from the Almighty:
If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword;
And his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.
Those that remain of him shall be buried in death,
And his widows shall make no lamentation.
Though he heap up silver as the dust,
And prepare raiment as the clay;
He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on,
And the innocent shall divide the silver.
He buildeth his house as the moth,
And as a booth that the keeper maketh.
He lieth down rich, but he shall not be gathered to his fathers;
He openeth his eyes, and he is not.
Terrors overtake him like waters;
A tempest stealeth him away in the night.
The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth;
And it sweepeth him out of his place.
For God shall hurl at him, and not spare:
He would fain flee out of his hand.
Men shall clap their hands at him,
And shall hiss him out of his place."
A good heading for this whole paragraph would be the clause in Job 27:8, "When God taketh away his soul." Every word that Job said about the wicked in this paragraph is true; the one missing note that prevents any supposition that Zophar is the speaker is any insinuation that all of these judgments fall upon the wicked immediately upon the commission of their wicked deeds. We are warned in the word that stands at the head of the passage that such things befall the wicked when God taketh away their soul (Job 27:8). It is the ultimate fate of the wicked that is spoken of here.
For young students, especially, who may be disturbed by critical shenanigans in their rearrangements and re-labeling of portions of Job, we include here the words of Kelly, who spoke of the problems centered in this part of Job, affirming that, "We are left with a difficulty which is insoluble on the basis of the information which we now have. But it must be affirmed that this difficulty in no way detracts either from an understanding of the Book of Job, or from a full appreciation of it."
"I will teach you concerning the hand of God" (Job 27:11). "The second person pronoun (you) here is plural; and it is a feeble expedient of critics to change this to a singular in order to make it something that Zophar said to Job." It is clearly addressed by Job to all of his friends.
"Job in these verses agrees with his opponents that the prosperity of the wicked is not the dominant trend in the world; but there is no denial here that the wicked may indeed prosper for a season."
The greatest error of Job's friends was their belief that sufferings, hardships, and disasters falling upon any person constituted proof of that person's wickedness. Any error of such colossal dimensions would condemn Jesus Christ himself. Look what happened to him! The sad fact is that, even today, the same gross error is found in the thinking of many people. Throughout Job, it must be remembered that it is this particular error, rather than any other, that Job so bitterly opposed.
Friday, October 28th, 2016
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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