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13:1-2 Job is not relating some vague dream like Eliphaz (4:16), or the traditions of past generations (8:8), rather he is speaking from personal experience and observation of the real world. Therefore, in no uncertain terms was he inferior to them. Job has offered facts from nature (12:14-15), men (16-22) and nations (23-25). "In each case, Job demonstrates his knowledge of God's power and prudence, equaling if not surpassing his friends" (McKenna p. 111).
13:3 Even though out-numbered, he has not been out-argued, yet he would much rather make his case before God than before these friends. "Why waste time arguing with this terrible triad who were smearing the facts" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 734).
13:4 They were lying about him being a sinner and thus they were as worthless medical doctors with no prescription to alleviate his pain. The term "smear" means to plaster, thus Job is accusing his friends of plastering over the pain and agony that God brings on the innocent. Not only have they failed to bring comfort, they have failed to correctly diagnose the problem!
13:5 He needs their loyalty now and not their advice. In fact, he remembers the comfort of their silence during their first seven days together and wishes that they would let silence be their wisdom again as they hear him out" (McKenna pp. 111-112). Compare with Proverbs 17:28. The wisest thing they could do right now would be to remain silent!
13:6 Job pleads for an opportunity to speak and that they would really listen to him.
13:7-11 He accuses his friends of seeking to contend for God without really knowing what God is doing. He is also accusing his friends of talking deceitfully about himself in order to defend God's actions. "How unthinkable that God, the holy, righteous One, could be defended by unholy, unrighteous argumentations" (Zuck p. 59). In trying to defend the impartial God, they are being very partial. In fact, when God examines them, their deceit will be revealed, which is actually what happened (Job 42). There is a great lesson here, God's character and His dealings in the world do not need to be defended by dishonest or tricky arguments.
13:12 "Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes": What they claimed were great insights and wisdom worth remembering were as worthless as the ashes in which Job himself was sitting, and their arguments were as defenseless as trying to hide behind a wall made of clay. It is worth remembering, "Note also the paradox of Job's spiritual torment. He can deny God's justice and yet affirm His moral perfection and righteous indignation against those who by flattery offer false testimony on His behalf. He who doubts God's concern for justice is at the same time confident that God is just" (Zuck pp. 59-60).
13:13 "Then let come on me what may": Job was ready to speak out to God and take the consequences.
13:14 In speaking, Job knows that he is risking his life. "Taking his flesh in his teeth meant risking his life. An animal that carries the flesh of its prey in its mouth risks losing it, because other animals, seeing it, would desire to seize it. Job, then, knew that he was putting himself in a dangerous position by speaking directly to God" (Zuck pp. 60-61).
13:15 "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him": Job was far more interested in justice than in preserving his own life. "He was willing to risk it because of the remote possibility that God would exonerate him" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 735). "Most of us easily quote Job 13:15 when we need a proof-text to declare our unswerving faith in God. Few of us, however, speak from the depths of physical pain, psychological despair, social rejection, and spiritual condemnation that make Job's utterance so meaningful. Having given up hope of healing from the counsel of his friends, he can only turn to God, without nothing to lose but his life" (McKenna p. 113). The reader should be aware that some other translations render this verse differently, "Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope". In spite of all his suffering, Job still holds out the hope that God will in the end justify his innocence.
13:16 "Job believes that if he could, as it were, present his case in court with God, that would be his salvation (vindication), for a godless man could not stand before Him" (Jackson p. 43).
13:17 Again Job requested careful attention to his words.
13:18 He is ready to appear before God, he is convinced that he would be acquitted, "like a diligent lawyer carefully preparing his presentation" (Zuck p. 61). In contrast, to his previous despair, Job is now very confident.
13:19 "Job was once more boldly affirming the impossibility of anyone's bringing honest charges of guilt against him. If someone, including even God, could do so, then-and only then would he be silent and die" (p. 61).
13:20-21 "Job has not hesitated to address God earlier (7:12-21; 9:28-33; 10:2-19), nor will he now (13:20-14:22). He declares that he will face the Lord in court if He will agree to two conditions. First, 'withdraw Thy hand far from me', i.e., remove the punishment presently weighing upon me; and, secondly, 'let not Thy terror make me afraid', i.e., do not so overpower me by Thy severe majesty, that I cannot present my cause in a calm and composed manner" (Jackson pp. 43-44).
13:22 If those conditions are agreeable then Job is ready to present his case. "He suggests that God can prosecute and he will defend, or the situation can be reversed" (p. 44).
13:23 If Job has sinned, then he asks God to reveal the problem. Notice Job is humble and is ready to admit sin, if God will say he has sinned.
13:24 Job is discouraged that God seems to be hiding from him and refuses to answer him and continues to view Job as His enemy. Job wanted his friends to be silent, but they continued to talk, and God to speak, but He continued to remain silent.
13:25 To torment a leaf or chase after chaff "was to molest the worthless, to hit a frail, helpless person who was down" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 735).
13:26 He feels that God has written bitter things against him and is holding him accountable for sins that he committed in his youth. Such bitter things would be unfair accusations. Note, Job is not saying that he had inherited the sins of his parents (Ezekiel 18:20), but rather he is afraid that God, to this day, was still holding him accountable for some sin that he had committed while youthful, rash, and ignorant.
13:27 In refusing to answer, Job complains that God is treating him like a prisoner, "boxing him in and making it impossible for him to solve his dilemma…God watched every move he made, and branded his feet so that He could easily track Job by his unusual footprints" (Zuck p. 63).
13:28 Job once again sinks back into despair. "His life is rotten and like a pest-eaten garment decaying with no hope of recovery" (Strauss pp. 127-128).
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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 13". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter