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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Job 16

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries



Eliphaz had just finished blasting Job with his allegations that, “If Job had been as good as he claimed to be, he would never have had all those troubles. Since the troubles came, they meant, of course, that Job was wicked; and now that he would not even admit it, he was, in addition to everything else, a hardened hypocrite.”(F1) It is difficult to imagine a more unjust, unfeeling or more evil personal assault upon a suffering human brother than was this devil-inspired diatribe by Eliphaz against Job.

“There was absolutely nothing new in the speech that Eliphaz had just concluded, if we except the bitterness and invective in it.”(F2) “Eliphaz was merely repeating what he and the others had already said; but, instead of being silent as Job had begged them to be (Job 13:5),”(F3) they were merely adding to his troubles by forcing their words upon him.

Verses 1-5


“Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: Miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? Or what provoketh thee that thou answerest? I also could speak as ye do; If your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could join words together against you, And shake my head at you, But I would strengthen you with my mouth, And the solace of my lips would assuage your grief.”

“Miserable comforters are ye all” Job in these words rejected the speeches of his friends as worthless to him.

“Shall vain words have an end” This was Job’s way of asking if they were ever going to shut up!

“I could speak as ye do… but I would strengthen you… assuage your grief” Job promised here, that if their roles should be reversed, he would comfort instead of torment them, as they were doing him.

Verses 6-8


“Though I speak, my grief is not assuaged; and though I forbear, what am I eased? But now he hath made me weary: Thou hast made desolate all my company. And thou hast laid fast hold on me, Which is a witness against me: And my leanness riseth up against me. It testifieth to my face.”

“Though I speak… and though I forbear” No matter if he speaks, or does not speak, Job finds no relief from his wretchedness either way.

“He hath made me weary… thou has laid fast hold on me, which is a witness against me” Addressing God here in the third person (he) or directly in the second person (thou), Job allows in these words God’s perfect right to do unto him whatever God wills, admitting that his terrible condition is indeed a witness against him, i.e., in the eyes of men. Job elaborated the awful things God was doing to him, but without accusing God of any wrong; and he continued that line of thought throughout the next paragraph, yet insisting that he was not wicked.

Verses 9-17


“He hath torn me in his wrath, and persecuted me; He hath gnashed upon me with his teeth: Mine adversary sharpeneth his eyes upon me, They have gaped upon me with their mouth; They have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully: They gather themselves together against me. God delivereth me to the ungodly, And casteth me into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, and he brake me asunder; Yea, he hath taken me by the neck, and dashed me to pieces: He hath also set me up for his mark. His archers compass me round about; He cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; He poureth out my gall upon the ground. He breaketh me with breach upon breach, He runneth upon me like a giant. I have sowed my sackcloth upon my skin, And have laid my horn in the dust. My face is red with weeping, And on my eyelids is the shadow of death; Although there is no violence in my hands, And my prayer is pure.”

“God delivered me to the ungodly” Here there is profound understanding on Job’s part that God is good, and that all of the evil that has befallen him, while allowed by God and, in some incomprehensible manner, is actually God’s will; nevertheless the actual evil that came to him came finally at the hands of the ungodly.

There are magnificent overtones of Calvary itself in this remarkable chapter. Job 16:4 reveals that Job’s friends “did shake their heads” at him; Job said that God had “delivered him to the ungodly” (Job 16:11); “They gaped upon me with their mouth” (Job 16:10); “They gather themselves together against me” (Job 16:10); “They have smitten (my) cheek reproachfully” (Job 16:10); “And have laid my horn in the dust” (Job 16:15).

Now observe that all of these things were prophesied as events connected with the crucifixion of Christ in Psalms 22.

He will be forsaken by God (delivered to the ungodly).......Psalms 22:1

They shake the head at him.........Psalms 22:7

They gape upon him.................Psalms 22:13

They place him in the dust.........Psalms 22:15

The evil men surround him..........Psalms 22:16

Thus, it must be held as sublime fact that, “The Man of Sorrows in the Old Testament (Job) is in many respects a type of the Man of Sorrows (Christ) in the New Testament. The Psalmist David constantly applied statements regarding Job to the Messiah, as witnessed not only by Psalms 22, but also in Psalms 35:16 and in Psalms 37:12).”(F4)

Of special significance is the employment both in this chapter of Job and in Psalms 22 of the metaphor of wild animals attacking their prey. In Psalms 22, we have the “Strong bulls of Bashan”; and here much of the terminology is applicable to wild animals. “Several of the words used here are commonly used to describe the mutilations of their prey by rapacious animals, such as a lion.”(F5) It is a mistake, however, to understand any of this as either hatred, or disrespect for God. All of the terrible things that were happening to Job came upon him by the hands of the wicked, a fact made perfectly clear here in Job 16:11.

“There is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure” In these final verses of this paragraph, Job again affirmed his integrity in these verses. This Job knew to be a fact, and all of the cunning ingenuity of Satan himself, through his chosen instruments (Job’s friends), could not dislodge Job from this fundamental integrity.

Verses 18-22


“O earth, cover not thou my blood, And let my cry have no resting place. Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, And he that voucheth for me is on high. My friends scoff at me; But mine eye poureth out tears unto God. That he would maintain the right of a man with God, And of a son of man with his neighbor! For when a few years are come, I shall go the way whence I shall not return.”

Here we have a sudden burst of inspiration. Yes, indeed, “We have an advocate with the Father,” even as an apostle would declare it in ages to come; but here the Lord suddenly revealed it to his beleaguered worshipper sorely oppressed by the devil and struggling with problems which no mortal man could handle alone. Job will again speak of this “Redeemer” in Job 19; but even here he is sure of his existence and fully confident Of his vindication at last in heaven itself. Note too that here is a clear acknowledgment of heaven’s existence and of the certainty of the saints being welcomed there when the probation of life has ended. This writer cannot explain why many writers do not even mention what is written here.

“O Earth, cover not thou my blood” This is a reference to the murder of Abel, another righteous man, who like Job, suffered only because he was righteous, and whom Job’s conceited friends had apparently never heard of. God said that Abel’s blood cried unto God for vengeance (Genesis 4:9); and here Job pleaded that his own innocent blood would cry to God for vengeance, and that the earth would not cover (prevent) it.

“When a few years are come, I shall go away whence I shall not return” Kelly, and others, have spoken of this verse as a “special problem.” “Job here speaks of death as coming in `a few years’; but everywhere else in the book, he views death as imminent.”(F6) Of course, some of the scholars are ready to `emend’ the place and make it say what they think it should have said. Why “emend it”? Was it not indeed the truth? Job lived to a full two hundred years of age, which, in God’s sight, was indeed “a few years.” Let men understand that God in these verses spoke through Job.

Job himself might not fully have understood what God revealed through him in this place. The possibility of this is proved by the apostle Peter’s words in 1 Peter 1:10-12.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 16". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/job-16.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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