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Job Desires a Judicial Decision of God
v. 1. Then Job answered and said,
v. 2. Even today is my complaint bitter, full of defiance, maintaining its attitude of opposition against the admonitions of Eliphaz; my stroke is heavier than my groaning, his hand was weighing down heavily upon his groaning, he was constrained once more to break forth in moaning.
v. 3. Oh, that I knew where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat, come before God's judgment-seat and present his plea, make his defense.
v. 4. I would order my cause before Him, stating in order the reasons for his plea, and fill my mouth with arguments, with objections, with proofs for the justice of his cause.
v. 5. I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say unto me, this knowledge enabling him to make his defense successfully.
v. 6. Will He plead against me with His great power, making use of His omnipotence to overthrow the contention of Job? No; but He would put strength in me, regard Job favorably. He feels confident that, if he could only find God and cause Him to take up his case, He would give him a hearing, not letting His omnipotent majesty stand in the way.
v. 7. There the righteous might dispute with Him, he who pleads would be shown to be a righteous man; so should I be delivered forever from my Judge, he would escape condemnation on the part of the Judge by virtue of his uprightness. With all evidences of weakness Job still clung to his trust in the Lord a type for all those in affliction.
Job Despairs of Finding Vindication in this Life
v. 8. Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; whether he goes to the east or to the west, he cannot find the judgment-seat of God, and so the joyful prospect which just opened hopefully before him is again swept away;
v. 9. on the left hand, that is, to the North, where He doth work, where His activity is evident, but I cannot behold Him; He hideth Himself on the right hand, turning to the south, that I cannot see Him. No matter in which quarter of the world he seeks the omnipresent God, he is disappointed in his hope of finding God's visible presence, the throne of His judgment.
v. 10. But He, while concealing Himself and thus escaping the necessity of acknowledging the innocence of the sufferer, knoweth the way that I take, He knows Job's accustomed way, that which he always took, that which his conscience approved. When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold, like the purest precious metal out of the crucible of the assayer, innocent of any specific great crime.
v. 11. My foot hath held His steps, clinging firmly and unwaveringly to the path pointed out by God; His way have I kept, observing it most carefully, and not declined.
v. 12. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips, he has in no way departed from the Law of God; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food, literally, "more than that appointed to me have I kept the sayings of His mouth"; Job regarded them more highly than anything which he may have considered his due portion.
v. 13. But He is in one mind, He is unchangeable, constant in all His work, and who can turn Him, causing Him to swerve from His fixed purpose? And what His soul desireth, even that He doeth, the reference being to the determination of God, as Job sees it, to cause him suffering.
v. 14. For He performeth the thing that is appointed for me, accomplishing the destiny which He had ordained for Job; and many such things are with Him, this including all similar decrees affecting mankind in general.
v. 15. Therefore am I troubled at His presence, trembling before the face of God; when I consider, I am afraid of Him, aghast at His unfathomable decree, which laid such suffering upon him.
v. 16. For God maketh my heart soft, causing it to be faint, to lose all courage, and the Almighty troubleth me, plunging him into confusion, anguish, and terror,
v. 17. because I was not cut off before the darkness, his calamity alone did not strike him with dumb terror, neither hath He covered the darkness from my face, he did not shrink back from his own face, though it showed the evidence of the deepest misery. Job indeed realized the depth of his suffering, but that was not the real reason for his destruction. This was due rather to the condemning attitude of God which took all hope and comfort from him and plunged him into the deepest despair.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 23". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany