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JOB'S FOURTH DISCOURSE CONTINUED
There are three divisions in this chapter: (1) He accuses his "comforters" of forging lies (Job 13:1-12); (2) he again affirms his uprightness and righteousness (Job 13:13-19); and (3) he proclaimed his submissiveness to God's will (Job 13:20-28). This third paragraph was called by Scherer, "A new attack upon God"; but, of course, it is no such thing.
JOB DENIES THAT HIS FRIENDS' ALLEGATIONS ARE TRUE
"Lo, mine eye hath seen all this,
Mine ear hath heard and understood it.
What ye know, the same do I know also:
I am not inferior to you.
Surely I would speak to the Almighty,
And I desire to reason with God.
But ye are forgers of lies;
Ye are all physicians of no value.
Oh that ye would altogether hold your peace!
And it would be your wisdom.
Hear now my reasoning,
And hearken to the pleadings of my lips.
Will ye speak unrighteously for God,
And talk deceitfully for him?
Will ye show partiality to him?
Will ye contend for God?
Is it good that he should search you out?
Or, as one deceiveth a man, will ye deceive him?
He will surely reprove you,
If ye do secretly show partiality.
Shall not his majesty make you afraid,
And his dread fall upon you?
Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes.
Your defenses are defenses of clay."
"Ye are forgers of lies" (Job 13:4). This is the topic sentence of the whole paragraph. Literature has no more severe a castigation of irresponsible language than this which Job here heaped upon his friends. He called them physicians of no value (Job 13:4), stated that their silence had more wisdom in it than their words (Job 13:5), indicated that they were speaking unrighteously and deceitfully for God (Job 13:7), noted that God would certainly reprove them (Job 13:10), flatly declared that their proverbs were proverbs of ashes, and that their defenses were defenses of clay (Job 13:12).
"Will ye show partiality ... contend for God" (Job 13:8)? Job here spoke of their untruthful allegation that God always dealt with men in this life according to their character, a crooked proposition indeed, as proved by God's great blessings upon thieves, robbers, and all kinds of wicked men. In the view of his friends, they were defending God's honor in this affirmation; but in these last few verses of the paragraph, Job appealed to their consciences, that in the majesty of God and their fear of him, they should be ashamed and afraid to defend such a lie.
JOB AGAIN AFFIRMS THAT HE IS RIGHTEOUS
In these affirmations, Job does not claim sinless perfection; because, he mentioned the iniquities of his youth (Job 13:26). What he does affirm is that the terrible misfortunes which have come upon him could not possibly have resulted from any gross wickedness on his part. In the concluding revelation, God Himself allowed the fact of Job's righteousness (Job 42).
"Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak;
And let come on me what will.
Wherefore should I take my flesh in my teeth,
And put my life in my hand?
Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope:
Nevertheless I will maintain my ways before him.
This also shall be my salvation,
That a godless man shall not come before him.
Hear diligently my speech,
And let my declaration be in your ears.
Behold, now I have set my cause in order;
I know that I am righteous.
Who is he that will contend with me?
For then would I hold my peace, and give up the ghost."
"Hold thy peace, and let me speak" (Job 13:13). From this it appears that Job's friends had attempted to renew their accusations, but that Job interrupted them, told them to shut up, and let him speak.
"Why should I take my flesh in my teeth" (Job 13:14). "The meaning of these words can only be guessed at." Job may have meant to ask, "Why should I place my life in jeopardy by affirming a falsehood in my claim to be righteous."
"Behold, he will slay me ... nevertheless I will maintain my ways before him"" (Job 13:15). The rendition before us is clumsy, awkward and ineffective. The KJV rendered the passage thus: "THOUGH HE SLAY ME; YET WILL I TRUST HIM; BUT I WILL MAINTAIN MINE OWN WAYS BEFORE HIM." Yes, we admit that a slight emendation by the Masoretes entered into this rendition, (and the radical critics don't like that); and yet they (the critics) have made hundreds of emendations of their own, far more radical than the one here. The KJV is by far the preferable translation of this verse; and it is backed up by the Douay Version and the new Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible by the World Bible Translation Center. This is the quintessence of Biblical faith, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." We reject as totally unjustified the critical presumption that they may emend any passage they please to make it conform to their theory, but refuse to allow such an emendation as the one here that gives us one of the great passages in the whole Bible.
"This also shall be my salvation" (Job 13:16). "The fact that Job can conscientiously maintain his integrity before God is his ground of hope that he will eventually enjoy salvation; the reason behind this hope lies in Job's conviction that God knows and will publish his innocence, and that he knows that a godless man would not thus of his own accord approach God to argue for his integrity."
"I know that I am righteous" (Job 13:18). Once more, Job thundered this claim in the ears of his friends; and, against their objections to his claim, Job had already called them liars with nothing but proverbs of ashes to offer in rebuttal (Job 13:4,12).
"Who is he that will contend with me" (Job 13:19)? This was an open invitation for his critical `comforters' to name his sins, point out his wickedness; upon which, if they did so, Job promised to hold his peace and give up the ghost.
JOB'S EARNEST PRAYER TO GOD TO KNOW WHAT HIS SIN IS
"Only do not two things unto me;
Then will I not hide myself from thy face:
Withdraw thy hand far from me;
And let not thy terror make me afraid.
Then call thou, and I will answer;
Or let me speak, and answer thou me.
How many are mine iniquities and sins?
Make me to know my transgression and my sin.
Wherefore hidest thou thy face,
And holdest me for thine enemy?
Wilt thou harrass a driven leaf?
And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
For thou writest bitter things against me,
And makest me to inherit the iniquities of my youth.
Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, And markest all my paths;
Thou settest a bound to the soles of my feet.
Though I am like a rotten thing that consumeth,
Like a garment that is moth-eaten."
Job's illness appeared to be terminal, and he expected nothing but death; yet in that awful extremity he turned to God in prayer. What a marvelous faith he had! In the previous paragraph he had asked his friends to reveal to him any sin that he had committed; and here he prayerfully asked the same thing of God.
"Withdraw thy hand far from me" (Job 13:21). This was Job's plea that God would ease the punishment which he was suffering.
"Make me to know my transgression" (Job 13:23). The absolute sincerity and innocence of Job in all this is clearly visible. Not merely to his friends, but to God himself, he addressed this plea. Jesus himself made the same appeal to men, "Which of you convinceth me of sin" (John 8:46)?
"Wherefore hidest thou thy face" (Job 13:24)? This feeling that God had hidden from him, or had forsaken him, was also experienced by Jesus Christ upon the Cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me"?
The glory of these concluding verses of the chapter is that they are addressed to God. Scholars differ as to the exact meaning of some of the expressions here; but the big point is that, in spite of all the uncertainties, the perplexities, the sufferings, the hopelessness of his awful condition, and everything else, including the cruel allegations of his friends and their utter incapability of either providing any comfort for Job, or understanding him, - in spite of it all, Job poured out his heart to God; and THAT is what made all the difference, finally, completely frustrating Satan's vain efforts to destroy Job's integrity.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 13". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter