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Bible Commentaries
Job 23

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary


Job Chapter 23

Job 23:1 "Then Job answered and said,"

Job 23:2 "Even to day [is] my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning." Job had listened to his opponents complaints about him. He knew in his heart he was not guilty of the things he had been accused of. His complaint was bitter, because he wanted to know what he had done wrong, that he might change it. His suffering had been so great, that he felt he had a right to know why he was suffering so greatly.

Job 23:3 "Oh that I knew where I might find him! [that] I might come [even] to his seat!" It appears, that Job had sought the LORD, and He had been no where to be found. Had he been able to find the LORD, this trial would have not been complete. I am sure God’s heart was breaking, also, to see such great pain suffered by so faithful a servant as Job. All believers are looking forward to that time when we can be with Him.

Job 23:4 "I would order [my] cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments." Job was sure, if he could get an audience with God that he could plead his own case successfully. "Arguments", in this particular reading, mean reasons why he had not sinned against God.

Job 23:5 "I would know the words [which] he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me." Job knew that God would make it clear to Job in what he had failed God, if he could only talk to Him. God does not speak in words that are not understood. Job knew it would be very clear.

Job 23:6 "Will he plead against me with [his] great power? No; but he would put [strength] in me." God would not attack Job with His great power. His power would fill Job with strength to go on. Job had every confidence in God. He knew that God was full of forgiveness and love. He knew that God would understand his great love for Him.

Job 23:7 "There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge." Oh! that we could all feel this confidence in standing before the Judge of all the world. We each will stand before Him on Judgement Day, and give an account of our lives on earth. Job wanted his judgement to come now, so that he might give an account of himself to God. Job knew that he could trust the Judge of all the world to do exactly what was right.

Job 23:8 "Behold, I go forward, but he [is] not [there]; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:" Job went back to his original complaint, here. He said, "I seek God, but He is nowhere to be found". He had never left Job, as He never leaves us, but it was difficult for job to comprehend why God was allowing this trouble to overtake him. Job had chosen to walk in the Light of God. Satan had brought this darkness, to see if Job would remain faithful to God in the very worst of circumstances.

Job 23:9 "On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold [him]: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see [him]:" Job had never experienced a time when he could not reach out and touch God. It was almost as if God was hiding from him. We must continue to remember that Job was not aware that these trials had been brought by Satan by permission of God. If Job did not falter, this would be a witness to all of the angels in heaven, to Job’s friends and relatives, and to every believer since that time.

Job 23:10 "But he knoweth the way that I take: [when] he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job was aware this was some sort of test, or trial, in his life. The statement "when he hath tried me" leaves no doubt that Job had become aware this was a trial. Though Job was put in the fire of problems, these problems will only make him come to the top as pure gold. Job said, God knows me and knows I will come through this without sinning.

Job 23:11 "My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined." Job was expressing the fact that he had walked on the straight and narrow path. He had not wandered into the wide path that leads to destruction. Christians, we must look for the footprints that Jesus made on this earth, and we must step into those tracks, and make them deeper with every step we take. Jesus is our example. We must follow him. A Christian is a believer in and a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Job 23:12 "Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary [food]." Job had fed upon every Word of God. He had based everything he believed on the Word of God. He did not regard physical food as much as He did the Word of God. That was obvious, because he began to fast when the problem he now had started.

Job 23:13 "But he [is] in one [mind], and who can turn him? And [what] his soul desireth, even [that] he doeth." Job knew that the moment God spoke, it was absolute truth and could not be changed. Job knew that there was no changing in the LORD. This sounded like a complaint to God, that he would not consider what Job had to say.

Job 23:14 "For he performeth [the thing that is] appointed for me: and many such [things are] with him." This was as if Job was saying that his fate was predestined of God, and there was no use trying to change it. He had come to the sad conclusion that what was happening to him, was his fate in life.

Job 23:15 "Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him." Fear of the Lord that brings reverence is a good thing. Terror of the Lord, which means we do not trust His actions toward us, is not a good thing. Faith and fear are opposites. Job was saying that he does not understand God’s actions, and therefore, was afraid of Him.

Job 23:16 "For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:" This was just saying that Job had lost his assurance that all was well with him and God. Job was no longer feeling that he could come boldly before the LORD. He had lost his boldness. Job’s heart was weak, and he was frightened of the Almighty, not knowing what He might do.

Job 23:17 "Because I was not cut off before the darkness, [neither] hath he covered the darkness from my face." Job was complaining that God had not removed him from the earth, before the darkness fell. We hear this many times from a parent, when their child dies before them. They say, why did I not die instead? His other complaint was that the Light of God had not protected him from this horrible darkness that Satan had brought to him.

Job 23 Questions

1. What did Job say in Job 23:2?

2. Why was Job’s complaint bitter?

3. Who did it appear Job was seeking?

4. If he had been able to find Him, the trial would not have been ____________.

5. What was Job sure would happen if he could get an audience with God?

6. What was "arguments", in Job 23:4, speaking of?

7. What was Job assured he would understand, if he could hear from God?

8. In Job 23:6, God, would ___________ Job.

9. What does the author wish that we would have when we stand before our Judge?

10. Why did Job want his judgement to come now?

11. What was Job’s original complaint?

12. What was difficult for Job to comprehend?

13. What must we continue to remember in these lessons about Job?

14. Why did Job believe he could not reach out and touch God?

15. If Job did not falter, who would it witness to?

16. Job believed when God tried him, he would come out as _______.

17. Job had walked on the _________ and _________ path. 18. Where must Christians walk?

19. A Christian is a ___________ in and a ________ of Jesus Christ.

20. How do we know that Job thought more of the Word of God, than he did physical food?

21. Quote Job 23:13.

22. In Job 23:14, it was as if Job was saying what?

23. Job was troubled at God’s ___________.

24. What was Job 23:16 saying?

25. What were Job’s two complaints in Job 23:17?

Verses 1-9

Job 23:1-9

Job 23

Job 23:1-9




"Then Job answered and said,

Even today is my complaint rebellious:

My stroke is heavier than my groaning.

Oh that I knew where I might find him!

That I might come even to his seat.

I would set my cause in order before him,

And fill my mouth with arguments.

I would know the words which he would answer me,

And understand what he would say unto me.

Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?

Nay, but he would give heed unto me.

There the upright might reason with him;

So should I be delivered forever from my judge.

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there;

And backward, but I cannot perceive him;

On the left hand, when he doth work, but I cannot behold him;

He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him."

This speech of Job is different from all the others in that it has no word at all directly addressed to his friends, being rather a monologue, or soliloquy, on the amazing riddle of God’s treatment of Job. This speech is recorded in two chapters; and Job 24 follows the same pattern, except that it embraces the riddle of God’s treatment of men generally.

In neither of these chapters did Job make any direct reference to what Eliphaz had said; but he did stress two main things, namely, (1) his innocence and integrity, and (2) his desire to commune with God which was prevented by his inability to find Him. These things, of course, were in refutation of what Eliphaz had said.

Job’s plight was pitiful; and the deep questionings of his soul evoke sympathy and concern in all who meditate upon them. The great fact here is that Job lived at a time long before the enlightenment that came with the Advent of Messiah. The Dayspring from On High had not yet illuminated the darkness that enveloped the pre-Christian world.

"Even today is my complaint rebellious" (Job 23:2). "Job’s friends considered his questionings regarding the government of the world, and his protestations of innocence as rebellion against God; and in these words, Job declares that he will continue to be a rebel in their eyes." This passage positively does not mean that, "Job’s attitude has drifted into open rebellion." Such an erroneous interpretation is flatly contradicted by what Job said in Job 23:10-11.

"Oh that I knew where I might find him" (Job 23:3). For Christians, the answer to this question is our Saviour. Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9); but for Job there was a profound uncertainty and perplexity concerning the Father and his government of mankind.

Furthermore, we do not mean to infer that all of the doubts and uncertainties have been removed even for Christians. "We now see through a glass darkly" and we know "only in part." (1 Corinthians 13:12). The mystery of God has not been finished yet (Revelation 10:7); and all of us should be careful to avoid the cocksure arrogant conceit of Eliphaz who pretended to know all the answers. We do not know all the answers; and it is imperative to remember that it is only the false teacher who pretends that he does.

The restlessness in Job’s heart as he sought to find a more perfect knowledge of God is a God-endowed element of human life. As Augustine stated it, "O God, our hearts were made for thee, and never shall they rest until they rest in Thee."

That intense and perpetual yearning of the human heart after God is most beautifully expressed in these nine verses.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 23:1-2. Stroke . . . heavier . . . groaning. Job had been accused of complaining unjustly. He affirms that he had underestimated his afflictions.

Job 23:3-5. The friends have charged that Job would not face God with his problems. He maintained an opposite attitude and wished that he might be permitted to come into nearness with Him to plead his cause.

Job 23:6. Job believed that God would be more considerate of him than his friends.

Job 23:7. There means the seat of the Lord referred to in Job 23:3. Job believed he would stand some chance in the presence of God.

Job 23:8-9. God was invisible to the human eye and hence was not taking the part of Job in any outward manifestation.

Verses 10-17

Job 23:10-17

Job 23:10-17


"But he knoweth the way that I take;

When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

My foot has held fast to his steps;

His way have I kept, and turned not aside.

I have not gone back from the commandment of his lips;

I have treasured up the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

But he is in one mind, and who can turn him?

And what his soul desireth, that he doeth.

For he performed that which is appointed for me:

And many such things are with him.

Therefore am I terrified at his presence;

When I consider, I am afraid of him.

For God hath made my heart faint,

And the Almighty hath terrified me;

Because I was not cut off before the darkness,

Neither did he cover the thick darkness from my face."

Job’s absolute confidence in his uprightness, integrity, and faithfulness to God appears in every line of this. Some of the expressions here elude us, as to their exact meaning; but as Kelly noted, "This chapter, and from here to the end of Job, there are difficulties for translators. The Hebrew text is often uncertain."

"In this chapter, Job’s confidence in his vindication appears firmer than ever."

"I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Where was there ever any greater certainty than this? In view of the epic nature of Job’s great trial, it is amazing, even yet that he held to this confidence.

"I have not gone back from his commandment" (Job 23:12). In every dispensation of God’s grace, there is constant emphasis upon God’s commandments. Not even the blessed grace of the New Dispensation has removed obedience as a prerequisite of eternal life. The Head of our Holy Religion said, "If thou wouldest enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Matthew 19:17). The present-day Christian should beware of the current bombardment by Satan to the effect that, "The grace of God alone saves us; obedience is not necessary."

"When I consider, I am afraid of Him" (Job 23:15). It is only the fool who is unafraid of God. "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10)."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 23:10. It is pathetic to know that Job was in the dark as to why he was being afflicted, except he believed it to be some kind of a test for him. He was not bitter over it but looked forward to the time or place when the test would be over and he would come out of it in the favor of God.

Job 23:11. Job’s confidence in the future was due to his faithfulness in treading the pathway of righteousness.

Job 23:12. Job regarded the words of the Lord above all other necessary things.

Job 23:13-14. The subject of this paragraph is the wisdom of God. It is to be esteemed as perfect although we cannot always understand its workings.

Job 23:15-17. Job was filled with awe at the presence of God. Maketh my heart soft means he felt humbled under the divine influence. He would have preferred death before the present afflictions came had that been the will of God.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 23". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/job-23.html.
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