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Bible Commentaries
Job 9

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-12

The greatness of God 9:1-12

Job began his response to Bildad by acknowledging that much of what his friends had said was true (Job 9:2). Many of Job’s speeches began with sarcasm or irony. He then turned to a question that Eliphaz had raised earlier (Job 4:17) that seems to have stuck in Job’s mind. How could he, a righteous man, much less the ungodly, stand righteous before God, as Eliphaz had urged him to do (Job 5:8), since God was tormenting him. God appeared to Job to be acting arbitrarily and capriciously. How can anyone be right before such a God?

"This is not a question about salvation (’How may I be justified?’) but about vindication (’How can I be declared innocent?’)." [Note: Ibid., p. 23.]

"Job’s first address to Bildad was a magnificent confession of the sovereignty of God. . . . Yet Job’s recognition of God’s sovereignty is more fatalistic than grounded in the nature of God as a just and righteous One." [Note: Merrill, p. 382.]

Because God is who He is, Job recognized that man cannot go into court against God and win (cf. Job 40:1-5; Job 42:2). It would be useless to try for four reasons.

"1. If I disputed with Him, I could not answer Him, because He is so mighty (Job 9:3-14).

2. If God did respond to my cry, I do not think He would be listening, because He is against me (Job 9:15-19).

3. If I am righteous, He will declare me guilty, because He destroys both the innocent and the wicked (Job 9:20-24).

4. If I try to forget my problems or even confess my sins, He would still consider me guilty (Job 9:25-32)." [Note: Zuck, Job, p. 47.]

"In an ancient court the winner often was the one who argued his position so convincingly and refuted his opponent so persuasively that he reduced him to silence. A second way of deciding a dispute was for the two contestants to engage in a wrestling match. [Note: Cf. Cyrus Gordon, "Belt-Wrestling in the Bible World," Hebrew Union College Annual 23 (1950-51):131-36.] The winner of the match proved the merits of his position and received a settlement to his advantage. While the preponderance of legal language indicates that Job is thinking of a court trial, the references to God’s strength and to his cosmic victory over Rahab’s cohorts in Job 9:13 indicate that the latter type of contest is also in his mind." [Note: Hartley, p. 167.]

Job concluded that God was unjust because He cut off both the guilty and the guiltless. Job’s concept of God was becoming fuzzy because God did not seem to him to be acting in ways that were consistent with Job’s limited understanding of Him. We have the same problem. We need to get our concept of God from Scripture that gives us the fullest, most balanced view of God possible for us now.

The Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades (Job 9:9) are constellations of stars.

Verses 1-22

4. Job’s first reply to Bildad chs. 9-10

"From this point on, the emphasis in the discussion is on the justice of God; and the image that is uppermost in Job’s mind is that of a legal trial." [Note: Wiersbe, pp. 22-23.]

Verses 13-24

The arbitrary actions of God 9:13-24

Rahab (lit. pride, Job 9:13) was a name ancient Near Easterners used to describe a mythical sea monster that was symbolic of evil. Such a monster, also called Leviathan (Job 7:12), was a major character in the creation legends of several ancient Near Eastern peoples, including the Mesopotamians and the Canaanites. The Israelites also referred to Egypt as Rahab because of its similarity to this monster (cf. Job 26:12; Psalms 87:4; Psalms 89:10; Isaiah 30:7; Isaiah 51:9).

"Far from being arrogant, Job is subdued, even to the point of self-loathing (Job 9:21 b)." [Note: Andersen, p. 148.]

Job came to the point of concluding that it did not matter whether he was innocent since God destroys both the guiltless, like himself, and the wicked (Job 9:22). Further evidences of His injustice include the facts that innocent people die in plagues (Job 9:23) and the wicked prosper in the earth (Job 9:24).

". . . in Exodus 23:8 bribery is condemned because it covers the eyes of officials so that they cannot see where justice lies. Job here says it is God who blinds the judges to the truth. All the injustice that prevails in the world is laid at his door." [Note: Rowley, pp. 80-81.]

Job rebutted his friends’ contention that God consistently blesses the good and blasts the evil with examples that he drew from life generally, not just from his own experiences. [Note: See James L. Crenshaw, "Popular Questioning of the Justice of God in Ancient Israel," Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 82:3 (1970):380-95.] In this he showed sensitivity to Bildad’s respect for tradition.

"The friends had condemned Job that God might be righteous-according to their standard. Job, defending himself against their unjustified insinuations, is driven to condemn God that he himself might be righteous (cf. Job 40:8)." [Note: Kline, p. 470.]

Verses 25-35

The unfairness of God 9:25-35

In short, Job believed it was useless for him to try to prove himself upright since God seemed determined to punish him.

The Book of Job uses legal terms and metaphors extensively in the sections that deal with Job’s disputes with God. Job had previously served as a judge in his town (Job 29:7-17), and he wanted justice (Heb. mispat) from God. [Note: See Sylvia H. Scholnick, "The Meaning of Mispat in the Book of Job," Journal of Biblical Literature 101 (1982):521-29.] Therefore he used legal terminology frequently in his dialogues. These legal metaphors are one of the key features of the book since they help us identify its purpose. [Note: Parsons, pp. 147-50.]

Job’s frustration, expressed in Job 9:32-33, is understandable since God was both his legal adversary and his judge. This accounts for his urgent yet hopeless cry for a neutral party (mediator, umpire) to arbitrate a settlement between himself and God. In the ancient Near East this arbitrator was a judge whose verdict was more often a settlement proposal that the litigants could either accept or reject (cf. Job 13:7-12; Job 16:18-21. [Note: Ibid., p. 148. See Wiersbe, p. 25.] Job had no hope of receiving justice from God-only mercy (Job 9:34). He felt that since God was so great, he could not vindicate himself.

"This is the persistent problem, the real problem of the book: not the problem of suffering, to be solved intellectually by supplying a satisfactory answer which explains why it happened; but the attainment of a right relationship with God which makes existence in suffering holy and acceptable." [Note: Andersen, p. 151. Cf. 4:17; 9:2, 3, 14. See also Smick, "Job," p. 912.]

"’I am not like that in myself’ (Job 9:35) means ’that is not the way it is with regard to my case.’" [Note: Zuck, Job, p. 50.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 9". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-9.html. 2012.
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