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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Job 17

Verses 1-16

2. Job’s second reply to Eliphaz chs. 16-17

This response reflects Job’s increasing disinterest in the words of his accusers. He warned them and then proceeded to bewail his isolation.

Job’s desire for a representative in heaven 16:18-17:2

Job called on the earth not to cover his blood (Job 16:18) so it might cry to God for vindication (cf. Genesis 4:10). Job did not want people to forget his case when he died. He wanted someone to answer his questions and to vindicate his innocence even if he was not alive to witness it. The witness/advocate to which he referred (Job 16:19) seems to be some heavenly witness other than God since he called this person a man (Job 16:21). [Note: See ibid., pp. 148-49.] Some commentators, however, believed Job had God in mind. [Note: E.g., Hartley, p. 264.] Certainly the God-man, Jesus Christ, our advocate with the Father, is the person whom God provided to meet this need. However, Job did not have revelation concerning Him as far as the text indicates. Job longed for someone to plead with God for him since God was apparently ignoring his cries. Moreover, Job’s companions were not pleading his case as true friends should have done (Job 16:20; Job 17:2).

"With increasing clarity Job is seeing that satisfactory answers might be gained only when he has more direct dealings with God after death." [Note: Andersen, p. 183.]

"In all the movement of this great answer it would seem as though outlines of the truth were breaking upon Job." [Note: Morgan, p. 208.]

Verses 3-5

Job’s disclaimer of his friends 17:3-5

Evidently in legal cases of this sort, each litigant would give the judge a bond (money or some personal possession) before the trial. This bond would guarantee that the litigant would be fair and honest during the trial. If one of the litigants was not, the judge would not return his bond to him at the trial’s end. [Note: Zuck, Job, p. 79.] Job called on God to lay down His pledge (as the prosecutor) with Himself (the Judges 17:3 a; cf. Psalms 119:121-122). The guarantor (Job 17:3 b) was one who provided the bond if the person on trial could not. Job’s supportive friends would normally have provided his bond, but they had turned against him. Job lay the ultimate responsibility for his friends’ blindness and rejection at God’s feet because God had withheld understanding from them. Consequently he believed God would not lift them up (Job 17:4). Job may have believed part of his friends’ motive in not helping him was that they could obtain a portion of his property when he died (Job 17:5). However, since Job 17:5 is a proverb, he may have only been reminding his friends of the serious consequences of slander. [Note: Smick, "Job," p. 933.]

Verses 6-16

Job’s despair in the face of death 17:6-16

Job proceeded to accuse God of making him a byword (proverb) to others (Job 17:6). Perhaps parents were pointing to him as an example of what happens to a person who lives a hypocritical life. One writer suggested that Job 17:6 should read, "Therefore I repudiate and repent of dust and ashes." [Note: Dale Patrick, "The Translation of Job XVII 6," Vetus Testamentum 26:3 (July 1976):369-71.] This statement would express Job’s intention to abandon mourning. However, most interpreters have not adopted this rendering. Job did not stop mourning.

Bright flashing eyes were and still are a sign of vitality, but Job’s eyes had grown dim because of his suffering (Job 17:7). Nonetheless, Job still believed that his experiences would not discourage other godly people from opposing the wicked (Job 17:8 b).

Again, Job ended his speech with a gloomy reference to the grave and his anticipated death (Job 17:13-16).

"However, at no time did Job ever consider taking his own life or asking someone else to do it for him. Life is a sacred gift from God, and only God can give it and take it away." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 35.]

3. Bildad’s second speech ch. 18

In his second speech, Bildad emphasized the fate of the wicked. There is little that is unique in Bildad’s second speech, but it was harsher than his first speech.

"Bildad’s second speech is straightforward. It is no more than a long diatribe on the fate of the wicked (5-21), preceded by a few reproaches addressed to Job (2-4)." [Note: Andersen, p. 187.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 17". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-17.html. 2012.