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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Job 23

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-17

Chapter 23

And so Job answers him and he says, Every day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning ( Job 23:1-2 ).

Really, what's happened to me is even worse than I'm complaining. I'm not even really complaining a full measure for what I'm really feeling.

But oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his throne! ( Job 23:3 )

You tell me to find God and be at peace, but if I only knew where I could find Him.

Deep within the heart of every man there is a desire for God. There is a search for God. There is a quest for God. Dr. Henry Drummond in his book, Natural and Supernatural, said, "There is a within the very protoplasm of man those little tentacles that are reaching up for Father God."

"Oh, that I knew where I might find Him" is the cry on so many hearts. People who are seeking and searching for God. But so many times in our search for God, we're searching in the wrong places. Even as Job here in verse Job 23:8-9 says,

I go before me, I go forward, he's not there; backward, I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he's working, I cannot behold him: he hides himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him ( Job 23:8-9 ):

"Oh, that I wish I could find God." He says in verse Job 23:6 , "He wouldn't plead against me like you guys are. He would help me; He would strengthen me if I could just find him, I know that. But I look all around, I go forward, I go backward, go to the right and the left. I know He's there but I can't see Him. I can't see Him. I don't behold Him. I can't find God."

He's looking in the material things. Seeking to find God in a material form. You will never discover God or find God in the material forms. "God is a Spirit. They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" ( John 4:24 ). And God is seeking such to worship Him.

Eliphaz earlier had said to Job, "Who by searching can find out God to perfection?" ( Job 11:7 ) You can't. God does not exist at the end of an intellectual quest. It is interesting that so many people seek to apprehend God intellectually and it becomes a real stumbling block. But if you had to be some intellectual genius in order to find God, look at how many of us poor people would be eliminated. But because God loves all men, even a child can discover Him. While these brilliant professors and intellects go on saying, "Well, I'm an agnostic," a little child walks in the consciousness of God, singing of Him, talking of Him. "And out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God has perfected praise" ( Matthew 21:16 ) "As Jesus took a child and set him in the midst of them and said, 'Unless you become as a little child, you can't enter the kingdom of heaven'" ( Matthew 18:2-3 ). You see, that's a put down to our intellects. We like to think that through our intellect we can solve all problems; we can't. The enigma of God can never be solved through the intellect of man. God is discovered in the heart of a child, in the area of faith, but it's spiritual dimension. You've got to leave the material and take the step of faith into the spiritual dimension to really apprehend God. And in the understanding of God, your intellect has very little value, because God wants all men to understand Him. So He puts it down to our level where we can understand and know Him and walk with Him. How beautiful it is. So Job's cry, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, but I look all around." Job, look up. Look up.

Why is it that we're always looking around for God rather than looking up for God? It's because man has always sought to bring God down to his own level. They call, or they have what they call the anthropomorphic concept of God. That is, viewing God as a man. And this is extremely common because most of the time a man's god is really a projection of himself.

Now you didn't know that you are as much in love with yourself as you really are. You hear a person say, "Oh, I hate myself." That's never true. They're just trying to draw attention to themselves. "I'm so terrible. I'm so awful." They just want you to say, "Oh, no you're not. You're wonderful." But we are very, very much in love with ourselves. You've heard the saying that the longer people live together, the more they look alike. You know what the psychologist's answer to that is? Actually, you're so much in love with yourself that when you are picking a mate that you usually find someone who looks like you and you marry them. And that's why the saying, "Oh, they've been living together so long, they even look alike." Well, you know, you just had foresight back a ways and you picked someone that looked like you.

If we would take a wide-angle photo of the congregation here tonight as you're sitting here and we'd have the thing blown up and put on the screen up here, who's the first one you would look for? Now, man then projects himself to immensity. "This is what I would be if I were God. This is what I would do if I were God. This is where I would live if I were God. This is how I would respond if I were God." And so his god becomes a projection of himself. He projects himself to sort of immensity and then he worships that. A projection of himself.

I oftentimes have people say, "I don't know why God allowed this to happen to me." What they are saying is, "If I were God, I surely wouldn't have made this mistake. If I were running things, I could have done it much wiser than that. I would have had a better plan. If only I were governing the universe, what a different world this would be." Well, that has to be the height of something.

"Oh, that I knew where I might find Him." Not in the intellect, not through the intellectual quest, not through the enlargement of yourself. God is found in Jesus Christ. "He that hath seen Me," Jesus said, "hath seen the Father" ( John 14:9 ). "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me" ( John 14:6 ). "Oh that I knew where I might find Him." Jesus said, "Come unto Me." And those who do have found God. From the little children to the college professor, we all have to come the same way. Setting aside our own intellectual genius and kneeling at the cross and saying, "Oh Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." And I find God.

Now Job, after speaking, "I cannot find Him." Here Job is capable of coming out with those classic statements. In the midst of his depression and agony and all, he just comes out with these jewels and then he jumps right back into the pit. It's like he comes out on the mountain for a moment and just bursts forth in glory and then jumps right back down in the hole. And so all of a sudden he comes out of the mountain and he said,

But he knoweth the way that I take ( Job 23:10 ):

I can't find Him, I can't see Him, but He knows the way that I take.

and when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold ( Job 23:10 ).

Deep down underneath there is a strong faith that is keeping this man. Now he's having great difficulties because he can't understand his problem, but down underneath the faith is routed. The guy is unshakable, because down deep, deep, deep inside there are certain basic things: I know that God knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me I am going to come forth like gold. God has a purpose. I'm going to come out of it. I'm going to come out of it purified.

Perhaps Peter was thinking of Job when he wrote, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trials which are to try you as though some strange thing has happened unto you" ( 1 Peter 4:12 ). Knowing that the trial of your faith is more precious than gold though it perisheth when it is tried in the fire" ( 1 Peter 1:7 ). Peter speaks of the refining process of God whereby the impurities are removed. And so Job is looking at all of this as really just a work of the removal of the impurities and, "When I come forth, I'm going to be like gold. I'm going to be refined by this process of God in my life."

My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and have not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food ( Job 23:11-12 ).

Now this is interesting because it indicates that, number one, way back at this time there was the written Word of God. Even in the time of Job who was perhaps a contemporary to Moses or lived earlier maybe. But even at that time, they had words that were esteemed to be the Word of God. "I esteemed His Word more than my necessary food."

How much value do you put on the Word of God? You see, there is the natural man, there is the spiritual man. Those that are born again are both, and that's where the rub comes in. The spirit is lusting against the flesh, the flesh against the spirit; these two are contrary. A warfare going on. Now, I see to it that my natural man is fed regularly and fed well. Now, I will admit that I do put some junk in him, but basically I seek to watch my diet. And that is not diet in the sense...that is, the food that I eat. I don't limit it, but I just watch. I like the whole grain breads. I like a balanced meal, things of this nature. I want to make sure that I put the proper fuel in this system so that it'll keep running well.

Now, though I am extremely careful of how I feed my natural man, it's amazing how careless I am in feeding the spiritual man. And it's amazing how much junk food people cram down the spiritual man. Diets that really cannot be healthy, but bring spiritual anemia. But not Job. He said, "I consider Thy Word more than my necessary food." It's more important for me to feed on the Word of God than it is to feed on steak and potatoes. It would be important if each of us had that same attitude towards the spiritual food in the spiritual man, that we would be interested in feeding the spiritual man. Now there is only one thing that really feeds the spiritual man, and that is this Word of God. This is food to the spiritual man. You need to feed on it. And Job said, "I've esteemed Your Word more than my necessary food." But now he jumps back down into his despair.

But he is in one mind, who can turn him? what his soul desires, that he does. For he performs the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him. Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider these things, I am afraid of him. For God has made my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me: Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face ( Job 23:13-17 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Job 23". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/job-23.html. 2014.
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