JOB'S REPLY TO BILDAD
Though Job did not lose his temper at the unjust accusations of Bildad, he shows here that the reproaches of his friends have struck deeply into his soul. "How long will you torment my soul, and break me in pieces with words?" (v.2). He is appealing to the fact that the best he can say of their words is that they are unfair. Ten times they had reproached him. Should they not be ashamed that they had actually wronged him? They had accused him of evil without knowing anything on his part that was evil. If he had erred, therefore, his error was only known to himself. They were only making thrusts in the dark.
They pleaded the fact that Job was disgraced as evidence of guilt on his part, so that they felt themselves secure in taking an exalted position over him (v.5). But he insists that God has wronged him and virtually bound him in a net (v.6). This is strong language against God, but he felt that his troubles were not deserved, and since he had the same misconception as his friends that God meted out suffering according to man's measure of guilt, he concluded that in his case God had been unfair
JOB FEELS GOD IS AGAINST HIM
God does not deal with man on a legal basis, as men generally think; thus Job speaks of crying out of wrong and being ignored by God. Where was the justice in this? (v.7). Job felt so constricted as to be a virtual prisoner unable to find any way out, with darkness hedging him in (v.8). His prosperity and dignity had been stripped from him, and he says God has broken him down on every side, leaving him not even an avenue of hope (vv.9-10).
Thus, he considers he is the subject of God's bitter anger and that God counts him as His enemy (v.11). How totally wrong Job was in all this. But when one is bound up in "self" he will always think of God in this accusatory way. Yet in all the trouble Job was experiencing, God was acting toward him in genuine love and compassion. At the moment Job could not see this, as later he would.
PEOPLE ALSO AGAINST JOB
Since people generally live by a legal principle, it is understandable that they had the same attitude toward Job as did his friends. But Job counted them as God's troops come together, "building roads" against him. Of course Job's surmise was wrong. God did not move these people against him, though no doubt Satan did so. Job's brothers had removed themselves from him, and Job blamed God for this. His acquaintances, relatives and close friends had distanced themselves from him (vv.12-14). Even those living in his own house, including maid servants, acted toward him as though he had been a stranger, a foreigner not to be considered (v.15).
At least Job's three friends did sit with him, and listened to him, but his servants would not even answer when he called. His breath was offensive to his wife, which was no doubt literally true. His wife was evidently no help to him in his sufferings (vv.16-17). Also he says, "I am repulsive to the children of my own body Even young children despise me." Of course he was not speaking of his sons and daughters, who had before been taken in death, so it is likely his grandchildren of whom he speaks. We can understand what children's feelings would be in seeing him sitting in an ash heap covered with sore boils, yet Job felt the fact of their recoiling from him in contrast to their former respect for him. But if he arose, he said, they would speak against him. At least, however they felt, even young children should not be so callous as to speak against a sufferer.
"All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me." Certainly anyone who has experienced such rejection cannot but feel the pain of it, yet Job's friends seem not to have even considered how deeply Job must be affected. His body must have been emaciated - his bones clinging to his flesh - and he feels he has barely escaped death, as by the skin of his teeth, - a metaphor indicating the finest margin.
JOB'S PLEA FOR PITY
If no one else will have pity on Job, at least he feels that his friends who have come to comfort him should manifest some measure of pity rather than of accusation. He pleads with them therefore, for as he says, "the hand of God has struck me." Should they add to his suffering, thinking it right to do so because God had made him suffer? He felt God was persecuting him, which was not true, but it was true that his friends were persecuting him, being not satisfied that his flesh had suffered enough.
At this point Job expresses his longing that his words were indelibly written (vv.23-24), for he was sure he was speaking truthfully. In fact, what he has said is inscribed in the Word of God for eternity, more lasting than if engraved in rock with an iron pen with lead inserted in the letters. Job however will not for eternity consider all those words as true, for after this he learned that God was indeed not a persecutor, but One who in everything sought the greatest good of his servant.
FAITH'S BEAUTIFUL TRIUMPH
In the midst of Job's deep depression it is wonderful to hear him speak so positively in these three verses, "I know that my Redeemer lives." Thus his faith is seen to surmount his feelings, which he had allowed to discourage him. Notice, he says "my Redeemer." The Lord would therefore certainly redeem him from all the adversities he was experiencing. How could he then have spoken so critically of the Lord before? But such is the inconsistency of our fleshly nature. Also, "He shall stand at last on the earth." Thus Job becomes a prophet, for this could have been revealed to him only by the Lord Himself. We know it is true because scripture subsequent to Job has revealed it, but it appears that God virtually put these words into Job's lips for his own encouragement. Of course it was true when the Lord Jesus came by way of the virgin Mary, and again it will be true when He returns in glory (Zechariah 14:4).
But more than this, Job says, "And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God" (v.26). How amazing it is that Job could say this. Only by divine revelation could he know this, for he recognised that though he was destroyed by death, yet in his flesh he would see God. This certainly means resurrection. Also, the only way he (or anyone) will see God is in the person of the Lord Jesus (John 1:18).
He adds, "Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another" (v.27), that is, it would not be by proxy, but a personal, vital matter. No wonder he is moved to say, "How my heart yearns within me!" This should have been enough to lift him high above the trauma of his bitter experiences, and perhaps for the moment he was lifted up, but his history at this time was very generally a conflict between faith and feelings.
A CLOSING APPEAL
In verses 28 and 29 Job returns to admonish his friends, whom he considered were seeking means or words to persecute him, because they thought the root of Job's troubles was really in himself. But he tells them to be afraid in having such an attitude, afraid of a punishing sword. For God's wrath would bring such punishment, that they might know there is a judgment. Such words from Job ought to have made his friends to consider seriously at least whether or not they might be persuaded by them.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 19". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany