Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 17:9

"Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his way, And he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger.
New American Standard

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Hand;   Perseverance;   Thompson Chain Reference - Deterioration-Development;   Perseverance;   Progress, Spiritual;   Promises, Divine;   Steadfastness;   Steadfastness-Instability;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Perseverance;   Righteousness;   Steadfastness;  
Dictionaries:
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Greatness of God;   Hypocrisy;   Perseverance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Way;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Clean;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Job, Book of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Hapax Legomena;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The righteous also shall hold on his way - There shall be no doubt concerning the dispensations of the Divine providence. My case shall illustrate all seemingly intricate displays of God's government. None shall be stumbled at seeing a godly man under oppression, knowing that God never permits any thing of the kind but for the good of the subject, and the manifestation of his own mercy, wisdom, and love. Therefore whatever occurs to the righteous man, he will take it for granted that all is well and justly managed, and that the end will be glorious.

Shall be stronger and stronger - He shall take encouragement from my case, stay himself on the Lord, and thus gain strength by every blast of adversity. This is one grand use of the book of Job. It casts much light on seemingly partial displays of Divine providence: and has ever been the great text-book of godly men in a state of persecution and affliction. This is what Job seems prophetically to declare.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The righteous also shall hold on his way - The meaning of this verse is plain; but the connection is not so apparent. It seems to me that it refers to “Job himself,” and is a declaration that “he,” a righteous man, who had been so grievously calumniated, would hold on his way, and become stronger and stronger, while “they” would sink in the public esteem, and be compelled to abandon their position. It is the expression of a confident assurance that “he” would be more and more confirmed in his integrity, and would become stronger and stronger in God. Though Job intended, probably, that this should be applied to himself, yet he has expressed it in a general manner, and indeed the whole passage has a proverbial cast; and it shows that even then it was the settled belief that the righteous would persevere. As an expression of the early faith of the pious in one of the now settled doctrines of Christianity, “the perseverance of the saints,” this doctrine is invaluable. It shows that that doctrine has traveled down from the earliest ages. It was one of the elementary doctrines of religion in the earliest times. It became a proverb; and was admitted among the undisputed maxims of the wise and good, and it was such a sentiment as was just adapted to the circumstances of Job - a much tried and persecuted man. He was in all the danger of apostasy to which the pious are usually exposed; he was tempted to forsake his confidence in God; he was afflicted for reasons which he could not comprehend; he was without an earthly friend to sustain him, and he seemed to be forsaken by God himself; yet he had the fullest conviction that he would be enabled to persevere. The great principle was settled, that if there was true religion in the heart, it would abide; that if the path of righteousness had been entered, he who trod it would keep on his way.

And he that hath clean hands - The innocent; the friend of God; the man of pure life; see the notes at Job 9:30; compare Psalm 24:4. “Clean hands” here, are designed to denote a pure and holy life. Among the ancients they were regarded as indicative of purity of heart. Porphyry remarks (de antro Nympharum ) that in the “mysteries,” those who were initiated were accustomed to wash their hands with honey instead of water, as a pledge that they would preserve themselves from every impure and unholy thing; see Burder, in Rosenmuller‘s Alte u. neue Morgenland, in loc.

Shall be stronger and stronger - Margin, as in Hebrew add strength. He shall advance in the strength of his attachment to God. This is true. The man of pure and blameless life shall become more and more established in virtue; more confirmed in his principles; more convinced of the value and the truth of religion. Piety, like everything else, becomes stronger by exercise. The man who speaks truth only, becomes more and more attached to truth; the principle of benevolence is strengthened by being practiced; honesty, the more it is exhibited, becomes more the settled rule of the life; and he who prays, delights more and more in his appoaches to God. The tendency of religion in the heart is to grow stronger and stronger; and God intends that he who has once loved him, shall continue to love him forever.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-17.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Job 17:9

The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

The way of the righteous

It may seem a work of supererogation to say anything upon such a subject as righteousness. But the subject labours under some obscurity. Many seem to think that righteousness in the Old Testament means something entirely different from righteousness in the New. We are enabled by the New Testament distinctly to recognise that which is in itself eternal truth in the Old Testament as well as the New. The righteousness of faith is grounded in the loyalty of the soul to God, and consists in the manifestation of this loyalty in words, in thoughts, and in deeds. Here, cleanness of hands is spoken of--singleness of intent, perfect simplicity of motive, There is no righteousness without this to some extent. The text speaks of the perseverance of such a man. “He shall hold on his way.” Still, all promises concerning the moral nature must necessarily be conditional. It does not follow with a mechanical certainty that every righteous soul shall hold on his way. He has a way. It is not everyone in this world that has a way in the sense of the text. Some have no definite aim or way. Others have a way, but it is a wrong way. The righteous shall hold on his way. His way is before him, clear and plain, though steep. He has nothing to do but to keep on day by day in the Divinely appointed path, for every step brings him nearer to the goal. And the strength here spoken of is moral strength. It springs from energy of conviction, and grasp of faith, and fervour of resolution, and depth of emotion. They are of the new life, the sense of Divine life in the soul. If you will believe in God, do the right, and leave everything to Him, you also shall find that the righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger. (J. A. Picton, M. A.)

The laws of spiritual progress

Weakness of all kinds is painful, inconvenient, and humiliating. So much indeed is power valued by us, that not a little of the world’s hero worship has been the ardent adoration of strength in some one of its three principal manifestations, of either physical, or intellectual, or moral might. And all three have a glory, though not an equal glory. Intellectual power, by comparison with spiritual power, has had a large, and on the whole, a growing share of glory assigned to it. But physical force has had the most extensive sway in the world, and the longest reign. Look--

I. At the kind of strength and progress that is promised in the text to the righteous. Our text speaks of a strength whose greatest triumphs in this world are still future, as Christ’s greatest triumphs in and over men are still future. It is a benign strength this that lies calmly resting on the sure promises and unchanging faithfulness of God. This kind of strength is moral and spiritual might, active, aggressive, victorious goodness. The strength of our text is the strength of right in vanquishing wrong, the strength of moral goodness in overcoming moral evil, both in its possessor and around him. This spiritual strength is counted weakness by the world, because its triumphs are not only like itself, spiritual, but they are often not immediate. Men who walk by sense, seeing not the things which are invisible, cannot wait God’s time and way. And yet to conquer sin and self is man’s best and greatest triumph. Every man’s noblest battlefield lies within, not without himself; lies within, not without his fellow man. In harmony with the world’s prevailing false idea of greatness, the idol gods, and the human heroes that men have made or chosen for themselves, have for the most part been powerful, but not goad. Look at the gods of the heathen. Superhuman in power always, but human, and almost infra-human, in character often. It is not moral and spiritual power, but grosser forms of power, that most people admire most. The suffering attitude of Jesus seemed to His contemporaries, and still seems to the eye of the natural man, the weakest of all Divine displays of power. And yet this in truth is not only the highest kind of power, but it is the mightiest in moral result. For the Cross of Christ is the very “power of God unto salvation.” Here in the Cross of Christ we see more of the peculiar power of God “who is love,” than anywhere else. Here lies the power of the Gospel. It is the revelation of God’s rich grace and love to the evil. God instructs us to seek as our best personal attainment, the possession of a goodness so strong, and pure, and lofty, that evil from within, us and from without us shall flee away ashamed and vanquished before its overcoming and subduing power. This strength needs to be all the more diligently cultivated by us because it is not natural to us. In our fallen state we are spiritually weak. But this best kind of strength may be obtained. It is the life of God in the soul of man, and it re-creates in God’s image the soul that it enters, and its presence becomes in part visible. The men in whom this life not only exists, but is abundant, by their very presence, both at rest and in action, exert a beneficent moral power and influence. These are the men from whose moral being a felt virtue goes forth that good men seek, and bad men shun. For there are men, every movement of whose mind creates currents of healthful, healing, spiritual influence, and such God-inspired men are strong. The text holds before us the encouraging prospect, that the really good man shall, by the inherent laws of goodness, go on his way, and become stronger and stronger in goodness, more and more successful in gaining victories over evil. Intellectual greatness we ought all profoundly to revere as one of God’s best gifts to man; but we ought not to dishonour the Holy God and His moral image in man by an unholy worship of intellect as disjoined from goodness. How much even in the service of religion is talent often exalted above grace! View the text as a Divine direction, and also as a positive promise of success, to every renewed soul that is trying to make progress in the Divine life, and asks by what means he may become strong. An answer to this inquiry is much needed.

II. Who are they that obtain the strength promised in the text? All do not. The man who would be strong and hold on his way must be in God’s sense “righteous, and keep his hands clean.”

1. The righteous,--the upright, honest, virtuous, pious. Our obligations to God and man not only lie near together, but at many points intersect and overlap each other. Righteousness is a name which covers over and enters into the whole web of human duty. The Bible name “righteous” denotes a well-defined class of men who are not now what they once were, but have been “born again.” Our text does not speak of any man in his natural unrenewed state; but it speaks of man when under a supernatural tuition, of man the subject of Divine grace. Life comes before strength, and is more important. Get life, and strength will fellow.

III. The laws that regulate this growth of strength. The reasons why the righteous grow stronger are both natural and supernatural. Note--

1. The operation of the natural law that the exercise of our faculties strengthens them. This is a law of the mind as well as a law of the body. The religion of the Bible perfectly harmonises with all Divine law. It is a reasonable service which yet rises above reason. Mature piety is ordinarily the ripened product of years well spent.

2. The righteous man who has clean hands holds on his way, and ever grows stronger through the ordinary operation of the great law of habit. Habit makes all things castor, and among others the most difficult Christian duties. The law of habit comes into action in favour of duty as well as in favour of sin.

3. The righteous man, and of clean hands, holds on his way, and waxes stronger and stronger by the teachings of experience.

4. The righteous man holds on his way, because religion is a life of which Christ is the source. But all life is much affected by food, climate, and exercise; and so is this higher life. Divine truth is the fit food of this life.

5. The great reason is that the righteous man’s God and Father holds him up and strengthens him. And He is the living God. When others stumble and fall, the righteous man rises and stands upright, because God strengthens and upholds him. Clean hands, and such alone can lay a firm hold upon God, and lovingly constrain Him in His visits to leave a blessing behind Him. Polluted hands have no such power. The man who seeks and finds this Helper must hold on his way and grow stronger. The whole atmosphere of Scripture is strongly provocative of robust spiritual health. The Godward attitude continued in makes weak men to become strong, and strong men to become stronger and stronger. (J. C. Macintosh.)

The nature of the doctrine of the saint’s final perseverance

I. A character spoken of. “Righteous.” As persons who are taught to discard their own righteousness, and are clothed upon with the righteousness of another. Clad in that righteousness, they are taught to live “soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world.”

II. These righteous ones are described as on their “way.” There is but one way, and Jesus is that way--the way of acceptance with God, the way in which alone we can walk so as to please God. It is the only way of happiness, and may be a way of self-denial.

III. The promise. “Shall hold on.” It is as positive as language can express it. He shall do it. Discouragements he may have, and shall have; trial of his patience, his hope, and his love--this he stands continually in need of, day by day, and hour by hour; through want of watchfulness he may slumber; through want of diligence he may stumble; withholding prayer, he ceases to fight; through self-confidence he may fall; but “the righteous shall hold on his way.” It is the “mouth of the Lord that hath spoken it.” (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

The hope of Job

What does “righteous” mean? We understand by it one in whom there is something more than a moral life; more than convictions of sin; more than religious impressions; more than sensations of joy arising from the Word of God; more even than one on whose mind there are certain influences of the Spirit; for the grace of God may enlighten the understanding, arouse the conscience, and move the affections, and yet with all this, the will may be unsubdued, and there may be no full and complete surrender of the heart to God. By the “righteous,” then, we understand one who believes with the heart in Jesus. Nor is there any essential difference between the Old Testament and the New in this; for the righteous under the first dispensation, believed in a Saviour to come. The righteous now believe in a Saviour already come. A righteous man is one who trusts in a Redeemer; who, in a special sense, belongs to Christ, and in Christ to God. Of such an one the text speaks. It is a difficult way on which he holds his way. The word “his” refers to the righteous man, and yet it is God’s way. The way which God has marked out for him; the way into which God has led him. It is no easy way. It is so narrow that you cannot carry the world with you along it; so steep, that if self-indulgent, you will never get up it; so rough, that if faint-hearted, you will fear the labour; and so long, that it requires much perseverance. But it is a happy way, the only happy way. It is a wonderful thing to see the righteous hold on his way; to see him out of weakness made strong, defeat changed into victory, his soul restored, his strength renewed. How are we to account for this triumph? The secret lies not in himself, but in God the Father who loved him, the Son who redeemed him, the Spirit who sanctifies him. (George Wagner.)

The saint’s perseverance

The Christian is frequently compared to a traveller; but no traveller reaches his journey’s end merely by starting upon the road. If it should be a journey of seven weeks’ length, if he shall sit down after journeying six weeks, he certainly will not reach the goal of his desires. It is necessary, if I would reach a certain city, that I should go every mile of the road; for one mile would not take me there; nor if the city be a hundred miles distant, would ninety-nine miles bring me to its streets. I must journey all the length if I would reach the desired place. Frequently, in the New Testament, the Christian is compared to a runner--he runs in a race for a great prize; but it is not by merely starting, it is not by making a great spurt, it is not by distancing your rival for a little time, and then pulling up to take breath, or sauntering to either side of the road, that you will win the race: we must never stop till we have passed the winning post; there must be no loitering throughout the whole of the Christian career, but onward, like the Roman charioteer, with glowing wheels, we must fly more and more rapidly till we actually obtain the crown. The Christian is sometimes, by the apostle Paul, who somewhat delights to quote from the ancient games, compared to the Grecian wrestler, or boxer. But it is of little avail for the champion to give the foe one blow or one fall: he must continue in the combat until his adversary is beaten. Our spiritual foes will not be vanquished until we enter where the conquerors receive their crowns, and therefore we must continue in fighting attitude. It is in vain for us to talk of what we have done or are doing just now, he that continueth to the end, the same shall be saved, and none but he. The believer is commonly compared to a warrior--he is engaged in a great battle, a holy war. Like Joshua, he has to drive out the Canaanites, that have chariots of iron, before he can fully take possession of his inheritance; but it is not the winning of one battle that makes a man a conqueror: nay, though he should devastate one province of his enemies’ territories, yet, if he should be driven out by-and-by, he is beaten in the campaign, and it will yield him but small consolation to win a single battle, or even a dozen battles, if the campaign as a whole should end in his defeat. It is not commencing as though the whole world were to be cleared by one display of fire and sword, but continuing, going from strength to strength, from victory to victory, that makes the man the conqueror of his foe. The Christian is also called a disciple or scholar. But who does not know that the boy by going to school for a day or two does not therefore become wiser? If the lad should give himself most diligently to his grammar for six months, yet he will never become a linguist unless he shall continue perseveringly in his classic studies. The great mathematicians of our times did not acquire their science in a single year; they pressed forward with aching brow; they burnt the midnight oil and tortured their brains; they were not satisfied to rest, for they could never have become masters of their art if they had lingered on the road. The believer is also called a builder, but you know of whom it was said, “This man began to build, but was not able to finish.” The digging out of the foundation is most important, and the building up of stone upon stone is to be carried on with diligence; but though the man should half finish the walls, or even complete them, yet if he do not roof in the structure, he becomes a laughing stock to every passer-by. A good beginning, it is said, is more than half, but a good ending is more than the whole. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Christian’s persistency

That master allegorist, John Bunyan, has not pictured Christian as carried to heaven while asleep in an easy chair. He makes Christian lose his burden at the cross foot, he ascribes the deliverance of the man from the burden of his sin, entirely to the Lord Jesus; but he represents him as climbing the Hill Difficulty--ay, and on his hands and knees too. Christian has to descend into the Valley of Humiliation, and to tread that dangerous pathway through the gloomy horrors of the Shadow of Death. He has to be urgently watchful to keep himself from sleeping in the Enchanted Ground. Nowhere is he delivered from the necessities incident to the way, for even at the last he fords the black river, and struggles with its terrible billows. Effort is used all the way through, and you that are pilgrims to the skies will find it to be no allegory, but a real matter of fact: your soul must gird up her loins; you need your pilgrim’s staff and armour, and you must foot it all the way to heaven, contending with giants, fighting with lions, and combating Apollyon himself. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Completing the good work

The present life is the only scene of probation of man; if he should fail in the scene in which he is now placed, he fails forever. How encouraging, then, to be assured that he who has begun the good work will carry it on amid all the perils of our present state, until we reach the state where no danger can arrive.

I. The character of those who are here introduced. They have already commenced the course of the Christian life. The expression “clean hands” denotes their freedom from those pollutions which are connected with human nature in its unconverted state. The language further suggests an open and honest profession of their attachment to the ways of God and righteousness. The man who partakes of this character will necessarily be concerned that he may hold on his way, and wax stronger and stronger.

II. The considerations which led you to separate yourself from the world and to devote yourself to God. All these claims are now at hand, and possess all the claim they ever possessed. Hold on your way, and look to the exercise of that cleanness of spirit which every honest mind will be concerned to possess. Look to the exercise of purity of intention, to the testimony which God has connected with His Word, that it may come home to your heart, and work mightily there. (R. Vaughan.)

Clean-handed righteousness

I. The persons spoken of. The “righteous” are those who have “clean hands.” The former term describes their state, the latter their character. Righteous is a forensic term. There can only be two ways of being righteous--either by never having sinned, or by being delivered, in some way or other, from the condemnation due to sin. The former applies to the angels. For fallen man another kind of righteousness must be devised, which is, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness unto him.

II. What is said concerning them? “Shall hold on his way.” They are going onward in the way to heaven; in this way they meet many obstacles--as from false brethren, false teachers, false waymarks. There are obstacles both in the way of faith and of conduct. Nevertheless, they shall “hold on their way.” This must necessarily follow.

1. From a consideration of the character of God. He is faithful and immutable.

2. From a consideration of the death of Christ. He died for us, not leaving it doubtful what effects would be produced by His death.

3. From a consideration of the nature and constitution of the covenant of grace. It is God’s will that saints should have strong consolation, upon the ground of their final perseverance.

4. From a consideration of the nature of real conversion, and the work of God the Holy Spirit.

5. From a consideration of the intercession of Christ, which must be ever prevalent.

6. From a consideration of the nature of that principle which is implanted within them. It is an immortal principle; an “incorruptible seed.” (John Davies.)

The godly man

Consider the character in the text.

I. He is righteous. The character in the text is right with God. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

II. He is holy. He has “clean hands.” The hand is the instrument of action; it is moved by the heart--the pulsations of which are right, and so he can lift them up to God “without wrath or doubting.” He is not afraid for God to see them, nor for Him to know the principles whence these actions emanate. A man has just as much religion in his business as he has in his closet; the same in the counting house as he has on his knees. There is no reason why labour should not be a psalm, and commerce a ritual in the best sense of the word. The time shall come when “holiness to the Lord” shall be written upon the bells of the horses; and then, whether men eat or drink, or whatever they do, they “do all for the glory of God.”

III. He is persistent. “He shall hold on,” etc. At an important period of his existence, Gibbon said of his prospects, “All is dark and doubtful.” Of this character’s future, all is bright and hopeful--“Glory, honour, immortality, eternal life,” are in the future. “He shall hold on his way.” The wind, and tide, and sea may be against the steamers which reach your port, but through the power of the steam within, they hold on their way. Outward circumstances may appear to be all against the character of the text; but by the power of the principle within he “holds on his way.” This is a moral duty. Final perseverance is an article for the code, rather than for the creed. This is a law of the Divine life. The leaven is put in to leaven the whole lump. You must go on, or recede; you cannot stand still. The purest water that ever fell from heaven will corrupt if it be stagnant.

IV. He is growing. The Bible beckons you on to better things, and urges you to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is also confirmed by experience. There is also a power in the habit of goodness. The more you exercise faith, the easier you can do so. The more you do for God, the more delightful becomes the exercise. In every conflict with hell in which you conquer, you learn the tactics of war, and become mightier for further engagements. What a bright vista opens before the soul which is morally right! (G. Warner.)

The penitence of perfect Job

(verse 9, with Job 42:5-6):--

1. It is not possible to set out the salient features of Jobs strength with even a slight approximation to completeness, without taking into account the immense energy he derived from his burning consciousness of unimpeachable integrity. Not that Job made no mistakes. He made many. He misconceived God’s methods, misjudged God’s heart, flung censures to right of him and censures to left of him, spoke rashly and petulantly. But never did he sink into an insincerity, or clothe himself with a sham; but maintained an unbroken consciousness of integrity of spirit and purity of heart. Integrity is power. Sincerity is a high form of human energy. Righteousness as a passion of the heart, and an element in character and life, is a manifest and undeniable source of imperial force. Wickedness is, in spite of seeming strength, actual imbecility.

2. Nevertheless, the closing picture of this hero, Job, is not that of a conqueror, but a confessor; not of an enthroned prince, but a kneeling penitent. This is not what we expected. The language of genuine sorrow and deep self-abasement loads his lips, and his far-shining integrity is not worth a moment’s lip defence by the side of his failure to keep the law of God. Sincerity is good, but it is not sinlessness. Indisputable integrity of purpose, and inflexible honesty of heart, are jewels of unspeakable worth, but they will not atone for rash speech, misjudgment of God, and hatred of weak and faulty men. Be true, by all means; but think of Job’s penitence, and remember that the heroic virtue of integrity and wholeness, superlatively good as it is, is not enough.

3. It is the special charm of Job’s story that it exhibits this high-strung and strenuous integrity dwelling in the same spirit with the acutest penitence and throbbing self-loathing. We can recognise these qualities apart, and appreciate them in their singleness, but that they should blend in the same life, tenant the same spirit, and be sources of power to the same character, conflicts with our habitual thought. Yet the minds of culminating power in the vast brotherhood of the world’s workers and redeemers, have not been more deeply marked by their persistent devotion to purity of thought, uncompromising fidelity to fact, and aspiration after perfection, than by their quivering sensitiveness to the smallness of their achievements, acute sense of personal fault, and prevailing consciousness--often attended by spasms of weakening pain--of absolute failure. The righteous Job in his penitence anticipates the Church of the first-born in heaven. It is fidelity to the clearest laws of advancing human life which marries in one and the same progressive spirit, inflexible consecration to reality and right, and deep and true penitence for failure and sin.

4. Whence came this penitential mood? What induced this change of feeling? The unexpected revolution is effected by the revelation of God to the eye of the soul. “Mine eye seeth Thee.” He passes out of the realm of mere “hearsays” about God, to that of inward experience and actual communion. The eyes give fuller and clearer knowledge than the ear. Job knows God as he did not know Him before. The character of his knowledge is changed, heightened, vitalised, intensified, personalised.

5. Was not Job led to this renewing sight of God by the voice that addressed, startled, and overwhelmed him out of the whirlwind, forcing in upon his mind an oppressive and overwhelming conception of the creative and administrative power of the Almighty? Is not the ear the way to the spiritual eye, as surely as the sight of God is the way to repentance, and repentance the way to life?

6. Here, then, is one signal value of the knowledge of God, even of His immense power and greatness. It is the ground and spring of a true conception of ourselves, of our limitations and possibilities, our actual condition and ethical ideal.

7. Such God-inspired penitence swiftly vindicates itself in the pure sincerity and holy brotherliness it creates, and the reconciliations it effects between man and man, and man and his lot. Sin divides; repentance unites. Humbled before the Lord, Job becomes a priest. Set the tree of penitence in such a Divine soil, and it must bear this kind of fruit. (J. Clifford, D. D.)

The righteous holding on his way

I remind you that while final perseverance is necessary, it is extremely difficult. The way itself renders if so. The way to heaven is no smooth-shaven lawn.

1. It is a rough road, up hill, down dale, across rivers, and over mountains.

2. Moreover, the road is long. It is a life-long road.

3. Besides that, the road is so contrary to fallen nature. It is a way of faith. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 17:9". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/job-17.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The righteous also shall hold on his way,.... He that is righteous, not in appearance but really, not in a legal but in an evangelic sense; who is justified by the righteousness of Job's living Redeemer, who lives by faith on his righteousness, and in consequence of that in holiness of life and conversation; such an one being in Christ the way of righteousness and salvation, and walking in the paths of faith, holiness, and truth, and in all the tracks of religious worship, private and public, he will persevere therein, and will not on any account depart out of the right way into which he has been led and directed. This is opposed to a going back, as some do, and to a turning to the right hand or the left, as others, and to a standing still, being stumbled, offended, and discouraged; and it supposes a progress, a going forward in the way, so as not to be moved out of it by their own, or the afflictions of others, by the reproaches and persecutions of men, the temptations of Satan, the snares, riches, honours, and pleasures of the world, or through darkness, desertion, and unbelief; they may indeed have many slips and falls, and be almost, but not altogether, out of the way, and never finally or to perdition; which is owing not to their conduct and care, might and strength, but to the power of God, and the supplies of his grace, to Christ and his strength, and to the Spirit and his influence, guidance, and direction:

and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger; or "add strength"F21יסיף אמץ "addet fortitudinem", Pagninus, Montanus. ; increase in it. This character is opposed to one of an immoral life and conversation, and describes one that is not guilty of any notorious crime, that does not live in any known sin, but in the general course of his life is upright and sincere, holy, harmless, and inoffensive; such a man as he is already a partaker of spiritual grace and strength, and so, as he wants more, it is given him; his spiritual strength is renewed, he goes from one degree of it to another, and even while walking in the way of God he finds an increase of it; yea, that itself is strength unto him; as his day is his strength is, to assist him in religious services, to enable him to resist his enemies, and endure afflictions, and continue in the good ways of God.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The righteous also shall hold on his k way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

(k) That is, will not be discouraged, considering that the godly are punished as well as the wicked.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-17.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The strength of religious principle is heightened by misfortune. The pious shall take fresh courage to persevere from the example of suffering Job. The image is from a warrior acquiring new courage in action (Isaiah 40:30, Isaiah 40:31; Philemon 1:14).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-17.html. 1871-8.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

‘STILL THERE’S MORE TO FOLLOW’

‘The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.’

Job 17:9

We must believe it to be true of angels as well as men that they continually change, and that in this lies much of their happiness. They must be continually advancing in knowledge of God, and with every step in this knowledge there must be increase of happiness. It is their happiness to know God, to contemplate His perfections, as well as to execute His will. The more, therefore, they know, the greater must be their blessedness. This is one grand point of distinction between the Infinite and the finite. God is for ever the same, but creatures, the highest and the noblest, must be for ever under change, because for ever in progress; and we know of no contemplation more august than that of all finite beings advancing throughout eternity in knowledge, whilst the Infinite remains the same, as far off as ever from being overtaken; it is an amazing thought, that an archangel, with the finest equipment of powers ever given to a creature, may be continually increasing in knowledge and happiness for myriads and myriads of ages, and yet not diminish, by any perceptible difference, the distance between him and his Maker. God is the same in everything, and, therefore, the same in that unapproachable magnificence which is essentially His characteristic.

We need not limit the application of our text to the present state of being, inasmuch as a progressive state is always ours, in common with higher and better orders of intelligence. The verse, however, affords a forcible illustration, if the course of the righteous be considered as terminated by death. We have, therefore, two separate topics on which to address you, accordingly as we apply our text to this life or to the next.

I. Now let us begin by pointing out a sense in which we believe our text holds good, though it may not be the most striking and important.—There is, we are persuaded, a power in religious consistency of overcoming prejudice, which, sooner or later, is almost sure to make itself felt. A great deal of the opposition with which religion is met may justly be charged on the inconsistencies of its professors.

II. We go on to observe, that from the beginning to the end of the righteous man’s life there is a growth in spiritual things; there is never a point at which he may determine to remain stationary, as though there were no higher point towards which it were his business to stretch. Our only perfection is to be continually aiming at perfection; and it were to prove ourselves ignorant of first principles to suppose that we had reached a height at which the soul might stop with complacency, instead of pluming herself for a loftier flight.

III. Now we might easily continue this species of illustration by reference to other Christian graces.—There is not one of these graces concerning which we might not show that it is necessarily progressive, for the whole genius of our religion is against the possibility of our being stationary, in regard to anything which it enjoins. It were not difficult to prove, that not to advance is to go back. Christian men and Christian women, be not ye deceived. If ye be doers of the word and not hearers only, ye must grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Try yourselves by this test; compare yourselves with what ye were in former days. Ye cannot stand where ye are. The Christian’s course is against the wind: if he have not proceeded he must have been driven back. Alas, for that Christianity which is satisfied with itself, which thinks that it has done enough, made enough of sacrifice, gone far enough in piety!

—Canon Melvill.

Illustration

‘The righteous shall hold on his way. Darkness and misunderstanding may hem him in, but, if only he will keep his hands clean and maintain his integrity, he shall wax stronger and stronger. The darkness shall pass and the sun shine again. There are times in all lives when our only method is to take one step at a time, as God shall indicate His will, doing right because it is right. Sometimes the height of virtue and of faith is just to hold on; having done all things we can but stand.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Job 17:9". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/job-17.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 17:9 The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

Ver. 9. The righteous also shall hold on his way] Stumble he may for a time at his own calamity, and worse, men’s felicity; but as he that stumbleth, and yet falleth not, gets ground, so fareth it with the righteous in this case. Once David said, "Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence; for all the day long have I been plagued," when bad men have been prospered. Hence he began to repent of his repentance, and to miscensure the generation of God’s children as thrice miserable, Psalms 73:13-15; but after a while, and upon better consideration, he said, "This is mine infirmity"; yea, he fooled and beasted himself, Psalms 73:22, for so saying. And the like will all those at length do that belong to God; though for the present offended at God’s proceedings, and by their passions miscarried to their cost, yet they return to their right minds; forwards they may fall sometimes, but not backwards, for that were far more dangerous. "Lord, to whom should we go," saith Peter, since "thou alone hast the words of eternal life?" John 6:68. Neither know we where to mend ourselves, by gadding about, to change our way, Jeremiah 2:36. The righteous shall hold on his way, mordicus tenebit, he shall hold it toughly, hold it as with tooth and nail, not going aside a nail’s breadth; ανθεξεται, he shall stick to it, as the Greek hath it.

And he that hath clean hands] Upright, innocent, righteous, clean handed, these all are the good man’s adjuncts and titles of honour, far beyond those of the world’s greatest magnificent.

Shall be stronger and stronger] Heb. Shall add strength. Not only shall he hold his own, but get more grace; not only persevere, but proceed and make progress. He shall take boldness, Sumet audaciam, say the Septuagint, and (by a holy antiperistasis) {Opposition or contrast of circumstances; the force of contrast or contrariness; resistance or reaction roused against any action.} get heart of grace, as they call it, from the evil attempts of others against him; the more outrageous they the more courageous he; like as by St Paul’s bonds many waxed confident, Philippians 1:14, and as the primitive Christians, the more they were killed up the more numerous they became. Plures efficimur quoties metimur (Tertul.). True zeal is of a most masculine and courageous nature; it is enkindled by quench coals, quickened by rubs and remoras. Baruch repaired earnestly, bursting out into heat, Nehemiah 3:20. Shall such a man as I flee? said that heavenly spark, Job 6:11. Shall I change my opinion, because hoc Ithacus velit? Remit my diligence, because of a frown or a trump? because such a persecutor threateneth me? Oh that I might enjoy those wild beasts prepared for my death! said Ignatius. Oh that I might have the maidenhead of that kind of suffering for Christ, said that martyr to Bonner, threatening to whip him, &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 17:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-17.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Job 17:9

These words assure us of two things which our minds need—a security of our continuance and of our growth.

I. Who are the righteous? (1) A righteous man is a true man; (2) a righteous man is upright in his daily life and conversation; (3) a righteous man understands, and recognises, and puts on another righteousness—the righteousness of Christ; (4) a righteous man is therefore a justified man, a man pleasing and dear to God for the sake of Jesus Christ.

II. "The righteous shall hold on his way." Can we read these words and deny the perseverance of saints? An unseen hand will be over you, attractions too strong to be resisted will draw you, a spirit not your own will animate you, and you will hold on your way.

III. "He that hath clean hands." To have clean hands means two things: (1) it is to be washed in the fountain that cleanseth from all sin; (2) to have clean hands is the Scriptural expression for a man who is living without any one known, wilful, deliberate sin.

IV. The forgiven man who lives purely "shall be stronger and stronger." (1) His conceptions of truth will grow continually firmer; (2) his faith in that truth will strengthen; (3) his power over his besetting sin will be greater; (4) his ability for service will grow; (5) his happy sense of God's love and favour will increase.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 125.


I. It is not possible to set out the salient features of Job's strength without taking into account the immense energy he derived from his burning consciousness of unimpeachable integrity. Integrity is power. Sincerity is a high form of human energy. Righteousness as a passion of the heart and an element in character and life is a manifest and undeniable source of imperial force. The strongest of beings is the holiest, and we men reach the very spring-head of power as we become partakers of the Divine purity.

II. But, strange to tell, the closing picture of Job is not that of a conqueror, but a confessor, not of an enthroned prince, but of a kneeling penitent. The unexpected revolution is effected by the revelation of God to the eye of the soul. Job knows God as he did not know Him before. The character of his knowledge is changed, heightened, vitalised, intensified, personalised. God is no longer a voice crying in the wilderness, but a Presence in his heart and before his spiritual eye.

III. Here then is one signal value of the knowledge of God, even of His immense power and greatness. By the knowledge of God is the knowledge of self, in the knowledge of self is the knowledge of sin, through the knowledge of personal sin we come to repentance, and by a baptism in the fiery waters of repentance we pass to the reality and strength of life.

IV. Such God-inspired penitence swiftly vindicates itself in the pure sincerity and holy brotherhood it creates and the reconciliation it effects between man and men and man and his lot. The voice of prayer is exchanged for the clash of debate; the incense of reconciling sacrifice ascends in place of the smoke of anger and scorn.

J. Clifford, Daily Strength for Daily Living, p. 325.


References: Job 17:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii., No. 749, and vol. xxiii., No. 1361; J. H. Evans, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 435; J. A. Picton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 211. Job 17:11.—Old Testament Outlines, p. 94. Job 17:13.—S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 201. Job 17:14.—J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College, vol. ii., p. 169. Job 17—D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3171.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/job-17.html.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 468

DARK DISPENSATIONS OVERRULED FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SAINTS

Job 17:9. The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

AMONGST all the doctrines of our holy religion, there is not one more difficult to be received than that which here offers itself to our notice: it may well be numbered amongst “the deep things of God.” The manner too in which it has been professed by men of enthusiastic minds, or antinomian habits, has rendered it odious in the eyes of thousands, who yet are truly upright before God. But neither the difficulty of guarding it from abuse, nor the averseness of men to embrace it, must deter us from stating what we believe to be the truth of God. We would not needlessly go out of our way to introduce a subject of such difficult discussion; nor, on the other hand, should we feel justified in passing it by when it comes fairly before us: we are bound “to declare unto you,” as far as we are able, “the whole counsel of God.” The doctrine we allude to is that which is generally called, The perseverance of the saints: and it is evidently contained in the words of our text. Job, seeing how all his friends were puzzled and confounded by the mysterious dispensation under which he was suffering, consoled himself with the thought, that, when the issue of it should be seen, it should greatly promote the edification of all who were truly upright: persons who were unsound or hypocritical might be discouraged by it; but “the upright and innocent” would rescue it from abuse; and would take occasion from it to pursue their course with augmented steadiness and zeal.

Agreeably to this view of our text, we will proceed to state,

I. The general principles upon which the perseverance of the saints is founded—

It is supposed by many, that there is in the souls of the regenerate a principle which is in its own nature imperishable and indestructible: and in support of this opinion, they appeal to several passages of Scripture which seem to establish this fact. They say, that “we are born of incorruptible seed [Note: 1 Peter 1:23.];” that, “because this seed remaineth in us, we cannot sin [Note: 1 John 3:9.];” and that it must of necessity “spring up unto everlasting life [Note: John 4:14.].” But we are by no means satisfied with this statement: we doubt much whether there be in the universe a man, provided he possess one grain of humility, who will venture to affirm, that he has such an indestructible principle of grace within him: nor do we think that the passages here cited do by any means establish such a notion: the seed to which such efficacy is ascribed, is, not a principle, but “the word of God [Note: If we compare 1 Peter 1:23. with the latter part of 1 John 2:14. they will give the true explanation of that difficult passage, 1 John 3:9. They will shew, that the seed is not a principle, but the word.]:” and it is the tendency, rather than the certain infallible effect, of the Spirit’s operations, that our Lord speaks of, when he compares his Spirit to “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Nevertheless we think that there is in the Holy Scripture sufficient foundation for the doctrine we are considering. It may be proved,

1. From the immutability of God—

[It is “from God that every good and perfect gift proceeds [Note: Philippians 2:13.];” even from Him “with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning [Note: James 1:17.]” — — — These gifts are the result of his own eternal purpose and grace [Note: 2 Timothy 1:9.]: and they are bestowed by him with a fixed purpose to render them effectual for the salvation of our souls [Note: 2 Thessalonians 2:13.]. Hence they are said to be “without repentance [Note: Romans 11:29.],” or change of mind in him who bestows them. There is an inseparable connexion between the original purpose formed in the divine mind, and the final completion of it in the salvation of the person thus chosen [Note: Romans 8:29-30.]: and to this very immutability in the divine mind is the salvation of men expressly ascribed [Note: Malachi 3:9.]. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his [Note: 2 Timothy 2:19.].”]

2. From the covenant of grace—

[In the covenant which God from all eternity entered into with his dear Son [Note: Titus 1:2.], there were a number given to Christ, to be his purchased possession [Note: John 17:6.]. In behalf of these the Saviour stipulated, not only to redeem them by his blood, but also to keep them by his grace [Note: John 17:12.]: and the Father also engaged, not only never to depart from them, but to secure them from ever finally departing from him [Note: Jeremiah 32:40.]. Provision was made for them, that they should have “every thing that pertained to life and godliness:” and the promises which assured these things to them, were made irrevocable [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:20.]; that so their consolation might be made abundant [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18.], and their salvation sure [Note: Romans 4:16.]. On this covenant the Christian lays hold [Note: Isaiah 56:4; Isaiah 56:6.]; and in an assured dependence on it he may say, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in me will perform it until the day of Christ [Note: Philippians 1:6.];” and that nothing shall ever “separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Note: Romans 8:35-39.].” In this covenant David felt his security [Note: 2 Samuel 23:5,]; and in this may every believer trust, with humble, but unshaken, confidence [Note: 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:8-18.].]

3. From the intercession of Christ—

[Whence was it that, when Peter and Judas resembled each other so much in their crimes, they differed so widely in their end; the one being restored to his apostleship, and the other being left to go to his own place? Our Lord himself tells us: “Peter, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not [Note: Luke 22:32.].” And to the same cause must be traced the restoration of all who are restored, and the stability of all who stand. St. Paul, in defying all his enemies, lays the chief stress on this: he mentions with gratitude a dying Saviour; but glories more especially in the thought of Christ as risen, and as making continual intercession for the saints [Note: Romans 8:34, with Romans 5:10, and Hebrews 7:25.]. Him the Father heareth always: and, whilst he “appeareth in the presence of God for us,” “bearing our names on his breastplate,” and “making intercession for us according to the will of God,” we need not fear but that we shall in due time occupy “the mansions which he has prepared for us.”]

On these grounds we believe that the saints’ perseverance in faith and holiness is secured.

II. The particular manner in which the most untoward circumstances shall be overruled to promote it—

This is the particular point to which our attention should be directed, in order to elucidate the true import of the text: for, in the text we have an assurance, not merely that the saints shall persevere, but that they shall persevere under circumstances which will prove a stumbling-block unto all whose hearts are not truly upright before God.

There are many circumstances which prove stumbling-blocks to the unsound—

[Amongst these we must first notice those which Job himself more especially refers to. Though he was perfect and upright in himself, he was oppressed with a heavier load of afflictions than ever fell to the lot of mortal man; and in the midst of them, appeared to be forsaken of his God. Now from such a dispensation, a man whose heart was not right with God would be ready to conclude, that it was in vain to serve God; and that, if he is to be subjected to such trials as these, it were better at once to seek the happiness which the world affords; since God puts no difference between the righteous and the wicked.

But more especially, if there be heavy trials for righteousness’ sake, the unsound professor is alarmed; and he draws back from an open confession of Christ, lest he should be involved in troubles which he is not willing to endure [Note: John 10:22.].

But the greatest obstacle in the way of the unsound arises from the falls of those who make a profession of religion. A man whose principles are not fixed, is ready to doubt whether there be any truth in the Gospel itself, when he sees a Judas and a Demas making shipwreck of their faith. Our blessed Lord told us, not only that such circumstances would arise, but that they would produce the most unhappy effects: “Woe unto the world because of offences; for it must needs be that offences come.”]

But all these tend ultimately to the establishment of those who are truly upright—

[The assurance that trouble springs not out of the dust, composes their minds under the diversified trials of life: they know, that, whoever be the instrument, it is God who uses it; and that He doeth all things well.

If persecution rage, he has counted the cost, and is “ready to suffer the loss of all things” for Christ’s sake; yea, “he rejoices, if he is counted worthy to suffer for his Redeemer’s sake.” The imprisonment of Paul was designed to intimidate his followers, and to obstruct the progress of the Gospel: but “it turned out rather to the furtherance of the Gospel,” inasmuch as multitudes were encouraged by his example to preach the truth with greater firmness and zeal [Note: Philippians 1:12-14.].

So also, if there be any public disgrace brought on the Gospel by the misconduct of those who have been regarded as eminent in the Church, the truly upright Christian is not at all shaken in his faith: he knows that the Gospel is wholly independent of those who profess it: if eleven of the Apostles had proved like Judas, he would not therefore have concluded that there was either less importance, or less efficacy, in the Gospel of Christ. He considers religion as standing on its own proper grounds; and he determines, through grace, to adhere to Christ, though all others should forsake him.

Here it may be well to mark more distinctly the operation of such circumstances on the true believer’s mind.

Events like these humble him before God: they shew him how weak he himself is, and how certainly he also shall fall and perish, if for one moment he be forsaken of his God. They make him also more earnest in prayer to God. Seeing whence alone his strength must come, he cries day and night, “Hold thou up my goings in thy ways, that my footsteps slip not.” Moreover, he takes occasion from them to search and try more carefully his own heart, lest he also should have deceived his own soul. He is put also on his guard against temptations, and is made to watch more carefully against every occasion of sin. Finally, he is made to feel the necessity of living more simply and entirely by faith in the Son of God, and of receiving out of his fulness those supplies of grace and strength, whereby alone he can hope to get the victory.

Thus are those very events, which weaken the hands, discourage the hearts, and subvert the faith of hypocrites, overruled for the advancement and establishment of the righteous in every good word and work.]

To guard against an abuse of this doctrine, we entreat you to bear in mind,

1. The characters who alone can take comfort in it—

[It is “the righteous” only, and he that “hath clean hands,” that has any title to the promise before us, or that is in a fit state to derive any consolation from it. If any be walking in the habitual indulgence of either open or secret sin, he is a hypocrite before God; and to be left to “hold on his way,” will be the heaviest curse that can be inflicted on him. Know, all of you, that “herein the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; he that doeth not righteousness is not of God [Note: 1 John 3:10.].”]

2. The way in which alone it should be improved—

[It is not to create in any one an unhallowed confidence, and to make him imagine that he may relax his exertions; but rather to encourage his exertions, from the assurance that they shall not be in vain [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.]. Whatever confidence we may feel, it must always be blended with holy fear [Note: Proverbs 28:14.]. If the Apostle “kept under his body, lest after having preached to others he himself should become a castaway,” who amongst us will feel himself at liberty to remit his caution, or relax his diligence, in the ways of God? “The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day;” and whilst we have an evidence that our path accords with that description, we shall be in no danger of deceiving ourselves: but the very moment that our progress is doubtful, we have reason to inquire whether we are indeed upright before God. Use then this doctrine, not as an excuse for idleness, but as an incentive to diligence; that you may “not lose the things which you have wrought, but may receive a full reward.”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Job 17:9". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/job-17.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Shall hold on his way, i.e. shall persist in that good way into which he hath entered, and not be turned from it by any afflictions which may befall himself or any other good men, nor by any contempt or reproach cast upon them by the ungodly by reason thereof.

He that hath clean hands, i.e. whose life and the course of his actions is holy and righteous; which is a sign that his heart also is pure and perfect.

Shall be stronger and stronger; shall not be shaken and discouraged by the grievous afflictions of the godly, nor by the bitter censures and reproaches of hypocrites or wicked men, cast upon them for that cause; but will be continued thereby, and made more constant and resolute in cleaving to God, and his ways and people, in spite of all difficulties and miseries.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 17:9". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-17.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

9.Hold on Lay fast hold of.

Clean hands — The hand was no less the symbol of human action than of power and strength: clean hands represented purity of action.

Be stronger and stronger — Margin, Shall add strength. A pure life is a source of strength to man’s entire being. Body, mind, soul, all testify to its reflex influence. Laws of habit unite with laws of grace to assure the good man that he shall ever “renew his strength.” (Isaiah 40:31.) Affliction facilitates soul-growth. God makes it the touchstone of spiritual strength. The fierce blast either uproots or strengthens the tree. The storm passes by, and the pious soul has struck deeper its roots into that which is eternal. “It is said of the Lacedemonian republic, that whereas all other States were undone by war, Sparta alone grew rich and was bettered by it; and we may say, that whereas all hypocrites and worldly men are undone by affliction, true believers thrive under it.” (KITTO, Bib. Illus. in loc.)

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-17.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 17:9. The righteous shall hold on his way — Shall persevere in that good way upon which he hath entered, and not be turned from it by any afflictions which may befall himself, or any other good men; nor by any contempt or reproach cast upon them by the ungodly, by reason thereof. And he that hath clean hands — Whose life, and the course of whose actions, is righteous and holy; which is a sign that his heart also is upright and pure from the love of sin; shall be stronger and stronger — Shall not be shaken and discouraged by the afflictions and distresses of the godly, nor by the bitter censures and reproaches of hypocrites or wicked men; but will be confirmed thereby, and made more constant and resolute in cleaving to God, his ways, and people.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 17:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-17.html. 1857.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Job, in spite of the accusations of his friends and mistreatment of the people, is now more determined than ever to hold fast to his innocence. Here is a man who has lost everything yet still feels determined to be righteous. Would we be as determined to do the right thing, even if all immediate and earthly rewards for such behavior were removed?

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-17.html. 1999-2014.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

The strength of religious principle is heightened by misfortune. The pious shall take fresh courage to persevere from the example of suffering Job. The image is from a warrior acquiring new courage in action (Isaiah 40:30-31; Philippians 1:14).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-17.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.
hold on
Psalms 84:7,11; Proverbs 4:18; 14:16; Isaiah 35:8-10; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 2:19
clean
Genesis 20:5; Psalms 24:4; 26:6; 73:13; Isaiah 1:15,16; Mark 7:2
be stronger and stronger
Heb. add strength.
Isaiah 40:29-31; 2 Corinthians 12:9,10
Reciprocal: Genesis 32:10 - two bands;  2 Samuel 3:1 - David waxed;  2 Samuel 5:10 - General2 Samuel 22:21 - cleanness;  1 Chronicles 11:9 - waxed greater and greater;  1 Chronicles 12:22 - day by day;  Job 1:8 - upright;  Job 23:11 - his way;  Psalm 37:34 - keep;  Psalm 92:14 - in old age;  Psalm 94:15 - and all;  Psalm 119:157 - yet do I;  Isaiah 40:31 - renew;  Hosea 14:9 - and the;  Matthew 13:33 - till;  Luke 13:21 - till;  John 10:28 - they;  John 15:2 - and;  Acts 9:22 - increased;  Romans 2:7 - patient;  Philippians 1:9 - your;  Philippians 3:12 - already perfect;  1 Thessalonians 4:1 - so ye;  2 Thessalonians 1:3 - your;  James 1:4 - let;  James 4:8 - Cleanse;  1 Peter 2:2 - grow;  Revelation 2:19 - the last;  Revelation 22:11 - and he that

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 17:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-17.html.