Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New TestamentJOB 19
JOB'S SIXTH DISCOURSE:
KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH, AND THAT HE SHALL STAND AT THE LATTER DAY UPON THE EARTH
There are just two parts of this marvelous chapter:
(1) In Job 19:1-22, Job described his pitiful condition, accepting all of it as being, for some unknown and mysterious reason, the will of God, pleading for mercy from his friends who refused to extend it, and bewailing the abhorrence and persecution heaped upon him by the whole society in which he lived. His kinsmen, his friends, his family, his servants, and his acquaintances -- all alike, despised and rejected him, brutally heedless of his cries for understanding and pity. There is no sadder section of the Word of God than this.
(2) And then (Job 19:23-29), rising to the very pinnacle of Divine Inspiration, above the wretchedness of his mortal pain and sorrow, he thundered the sublime words that have blessed humanity throughout the ages of multiple Dispensations of the Grace of God!
I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH, AND THAT
HE SHALL STAND AT THE LATTER
DAY UPON THE EARTH
These sacred words adorn and glorify that incredibly beautiful soprano solo from George Frederick Handel's oratorio, The Messiah, honored by the standing ovation led by Queen Victoria at its initial presentation. Where is the man who can hear it without tears of emotion and joy?
In our discussion of this chapter, we shall concentrate our attention upon this immortal second section.
JOB'S IMPATIENCE WITH HIS FRIENDS
Then Job answered and said,
How long will ye vex my soul,
And break me in pieces with words?
These ten times have ye reproached me:
Ye are not ashamed that ye deal hardly with me.
And be it indeed that I have erred,
Mine error remaineth with myself,
If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me,
And plead against me my reproach;
Know now that God hath subverted me in my cause,
And compassed me with his net."
Then Job answered and said, How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words? These ten times have ye reproached me: Ye are not ashamed that ye deal hardly with me. And be it indeed that I have erred, Mine error remaineth with myself. If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, And plead against me my reproach; Know now that God hath subverted me [in my cause], And hath compassed me with his net.
(Job 19:3). These words are not to be understood literally.F1 This is an idiomatic expression meaning `often' or frequently.
Mine error remaineth with myself
(Job 19:4). This verse is not a confession of sin by Job.F2 It states merely that whatever error Job might have committed, it had not injured or hurt his friends in any manner whatever.
God hath subverted me in my cause
(Job 19:6). The exact meaning here is ambiguous; but we reject Watson's rendition of the passage, God has wronged me.F3 The marginal substitute for `subverted' is 'overthrown'; but whatever the passage means, Job does not assert that God has wronged him. Clines gives the true meaning: God Himself has made me seem like a wrongdoer by sending entirely undeserved suffering upon me.F4
JOB'S ACCOUNT OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE TO HIM
Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard:
I cry for help, but there is no justice.
He hath walled up my way that I cannot pass,
And hath set darkness in my paths.
He hath stripped me of my glory,
And taken the crown from my head.
He hath broken me down on every side, and I am gone;
And my hope hath he plucked up like a tree.
He hath also kindled his wrath against me,
And he accounteth me unto him as one of his adversaries.
His troops come on together,
And cast up their way against me,
And encamp round about my tent."
Many do not understand the tenor of these words. They do not mean that Job considers God unjust, unmerciful, or unfair in any way. His attitude here is exactly that of the grieving and bereaved parent whose only son was run over and killed by a drunken driver; and, at the funeral, he cried, "The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." He did not mean that God had unjustly killed his son; but that the disaster had come under the umbrella of God's permissive will. It is the ancient view that nothing can occur, or happen, except that which God's permissive will allows. This is profoundly true; and Job was exactly right in ascribing the disasters that came upon him as being indeed what God (in that permissive sense) had willed, or allowed. Satan was the perpetrator of all that injustice to Job, but he could not have lifted a finger against him without God's permission.
To the prior question of whether or not it is morally right for God to allow such evil, the answer is clear enough. When God allowed mankind the freedom of the will, and the inalienable right to choose good or evil, that Divinely conferred endowment made it absolutely certain that wickedness would prevail upon the earth. It could not possibly have been otherwise.
IN HIS LAMENTATION, JOB APPEALED TO HIS FRIENDS
He hath put my brethren far from me,
And mine acquaintance is wholly estranged from me.
My kinsfolk have failed,
And my familiar friends have forgotten me.
They that dwell in my house, and my maids count me as a stranger:
I am an alien in their sight.
I call unto my servant, and he giveth me no answer,
Though I entreat him with my mouth.
My breath is strange to my wife,
And my supplication to the children of my own mother.
Even young children despise me;
If I arise, they speak against me.
All my familiar friends abhor me,
And they whom I loved are turned against me.
My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh,
And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
Have pity on me, have pity upon me, O ye, my friends;
For the hand of God hath touched me.
Why do ye persecute me as God,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?"
He hath put my brethren far from me, And mine acquaintance are wholly estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, And my familiar friends have forgotten me. They that dwell in my house, and my maids, count me for a stranger; I am an alien in their sight. I call unto my servant, and he giveth me no answer, [Though] I entreat him with my mouth. My breath is strange to my wife, And my supplication to the children of mine own mother. Even young children despise me; If I arise, they speak against me. All my familiar friends abhor me, And they whom I loved are turned against me. My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, And I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; For the hand of God hath touched me. Why do ye persecute me as God, And are not satisfied with my flesh?
(Job 19:13). Yes, Job had actual brothers (Job 6:15) who forsook him and dealt deceitfully with him in the days of his adversity. But in the days when his prosperity returned they ate bread with him (Job 42:11).F5 In this particular we find another likeness of the Great Antitype whose brethren believed him not (John 6:5).
I call unto my servant, and he giveth me no answer
(Job 19:16). This was astounding insolence indeed; and in view of the times in which this occurred, it was almost incredibly insulting. Satan really went all-out in his vain efforts to break Job's spirit. Job's humiliation here was already complete when the slave was `entreated,' rather than `commanded.'F6
Have pity upon me; have pity upon me, O ye my friends
(Job 19:21). Where are there any sadder words than these? These cruel, heartless, bigoted, hypocrites, arrogant in their conceited confidence that they `knew all the answers,' proceeded to judge Job, as if they were God Himself. No wonder Christ said, Judge not, that ye be not judged with the same condemnation (Matthew 7:1).
Why do ye persecute me as God
(Job 19:22). This does not mean that Job accused God of persecuting him. He protests his friend's persecution of him, as if they were God, assuming to know that which only God could know, and condemning Job upon this presumed superknowledge they pretended to have.
JOB'S WORDS (ABOUT TO BE UTTERED) ARE OF ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE;
AND HE PRAYED THAT THEY MIGHT BE REMEMBERED FOREVER
Oh that my words were now written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a boom
That with an iron pen and lead
They were graven in the rock forever!"
The scholars like to speculate about the kind of book Job was talking about here, but that has nothing to do with the point. These verses prove that Job was about to mention something of eternal import, words that needed to be remembered forever. This prelude to what he said makes any speculation that Job's declaration pertained to anything whatever in his present lifetime impossible to allow. No individual's lifetime could possibly provide the perimeter of the world-shaking Truth to be revealed. The theater in which his words would shine forever encompassed Time and Eternity, and not merely the fleeting days of any mortal's lifetime on earth.
The Good News Bible version erroneously translated Job 19:26, making it read, "While still in this body, I shall see God." This is an example of that which was mentioned by Rowley that, "Some editors emend out of the passage any concept of the resurrection,"F7 that being exactly what the editors of the Good News Bible did here. If that was all that Job meant, there would have been no need whatever for this marvelous prelude.
God honored Job's wishes here for the eternal preservation of his priceless words. "That which Job so passionately wished for in this passage, God was pleased to grant."F8 The sacred words of the Holy Bible record Job's holy words; and that is a far more permanent memorial that any leaded inscription upon the face of some Behistun mountain could possibly have been.
But as for me I know that my Redeemer liveth, And at last he will stand up upon the earth:
The importance of this verse justifies a glance at the way different versions have rendered it.
"I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." -- KJV
"I know that my redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth." -- RSV.
"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth." -- the New RSV.
"For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth." -- Douay.
"Still, I know One to champion me at last, to stand up for me on earth." -- Moffatt.
"I know there is someone to defend me. I know he lives! And in the end he will stand here on the earth." -- NIV.
"But I know that my vindicator liveth, and that hereafter he will stand upon the dust." -- S. R. Driver in International Critical Commentary.
All of these seven additional versions say everything that is affirmed in the one we follow, namely, the American Standard Version. Even some who did not capitalize the reference to the Redeemer, nevertheless place him in heaven, or place his appearance "in the end" "at last," or "in the latter day," any one of which words makes that `someone' undeniably a supernatural person.
There are epic corollaries that automatically spin off from these words: (1) Since Job visualizes his vindication as coming in the "last day," he believed in the resurrection of the dead. The critical canard that the resurrection is "a late Jewish doctrine" is not true. Even Abraham believed in the resurrection of the dead (Hebrews 11:19). (2) The doctrine of the Incarnation is also inherent in the revelation that, "The Redeemer," that "someone," that heavenly Person shall "Stand"! upon the earth. (3) God's interest in his human creation is yet another. "There is a Redeemer provided for fallen man."F9 (4) Yet again, the ultimate victory of Christ over all his enemies is inherent in these glorious words. "And He shall stand upon the earth (the dust, literally)." And what is that dust? All of the enemies of Christ shall at last be as dust under his feet. "He shall stand"! This means his word shall stand; his authority shall stand; his name shall stand. (5) There is also the corollary of the Redeemer's eternity in this. Job said, "He lives." But he will also be there, at "the latter day," "in the end," etc. "He is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
Who is this Redeemer which Job mentioned here? Only a fool could miss his identity.
"In Job 9:33, Job had already mentioned an Umpire between himself and God, who certainly could not have been any other than a Divine Person; and in 16:19 he declared his conviction that `His Witness' is in heaven; and in v. 16:21 he mentioned an Advocate who would plead his case with God. Thus, prior to the glorious climax reached in these verses, Job had already recognized God as his Judge, his Witness, his Advocate, and his Surety, in some of these passages by formal announcement of the fact, and in others by his earnest longing for, and anticipation of, Someone who would act in such capacities."F10 After all this, what kind of simpleton could wonder whom he meant by "MY REDEEMER" in Job 19:25?
Another question which demands our attention here is this: "By what means did Job come to have possession of such epic Truth as that which shines in these verses"? We reject out of hand the supposition that, "It seems probable that we have in this passage another one of Job's statements in which he seems to be feeling toward immortality."F11 No! A thousand times, No! If all Job was doing was "feeling his way" toward some great understanding of Truth, his words here are not worth the paper they are written on.
As laid out in our Introduction to this book, "Job was under the impulse of the Blessed Spirit."F12 As Adam Clarke accurately stated it, "There is one principle, without which no interpretation (of this passage) can have any weight; and that principle is this: Job was now under the special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and spoke prophetically."F13
And after my skin, [even] this [body], is destroyed, Then without my flesh shall I see God;
This is a stupid error in our version, which fortunately, is rare enough in the ASV; but there is no doubt of it here. The proper rendition here is, "In my flesh, I shall see God," as properly rendered in the KJV, the new RSV, and in the DOUAY. However, even without the testimony of other versions, the text, as we have it, even here (the ASV) contradicts their false rendition. The following verse reads, "Whom I shall see ... And mine eyes shall behold." Eyes are flesh, and without flesh would mean without eyes; and therefore the American Standard Version in this Job 19:26 is incorrect.
Why was such a stupid error as this committed by our translators. H. H. Rowley explains that the Hebrew words here may indeed mean either `in my flesh,' or `without my flesh."F14 Since either rendition might be correct, the true reading must be determined by the context; and the translators of our version (American Standard Version) evidently had not read the next verse (Job 19:27) where Job's eyes are mentioned; or if they read it, did not heed its positive and undeniable reference to one `in his flesh,' not 'without it.' Besides that, "The idea of a non-corporeal posthumous existence of Job is unlikely to have been in his mind."F15 "Unlikely" here is too mild a word. It was an utter impossibility.
There are other examples of present-day radical and liberal scholars who deliberately choose the incorrect word in certain passages where multiple choices are actually available. For a common example of this, reference is here made to Vol. 11 of our New Testament Series, pp. 221, 222.
Now, if the passage were rendered, `without this flesh' the meaning would not have contradicted the truth. That "flesh" in which all of us shall see God, is not the old, worn-out body of our mortality, but a new body, as it shall please God to give us.
Whom I, even I, shall see, on my side,
And mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.
My heart is consumed within me."
Whom I, even I, shall see, on my side, And mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger. My heart is consumed within me.
By this Job reveals that the flesh in which he shall see God is not the decaying body of his suffering. It is clearly an immortal and resurrected body that shall come to him in the last day that he has in mind.
JOB WARNS HIS EVIL-MINDED FRIENDS OF THE JUDGMENT
If ye say, How we will persecute him!
And that the root of the matter is found in me;
Be ye afraid of the sword:
For wrath bringeth the punishment of the sword,
That ye may know there is a judgment."
"In these verses, Job warns his friends that they should not make themselves obnoxious to God, because God will take vengeance upon them that show no mercy. If they do not repent, Job warned them to fear the sword; because there is a judgment, not merely a present government, but a future judgment, in which hard speeches must be accounted for."F16
This mention of the future judgment here is significant indeed. It sheds light upon what Job meant by such expressions as "the latter day," "in the end," and "at last."
Whether or not Job might have understood the full implications of all the wonderful revelation God gave him in these precious verses, we cannot tell. An apostle explained that the inspired writers of the Old Testament did not always know what their holy words meant (1 Peter 1:10-12); but what is truly important is that we ourselves should truly understand and appreciate them. Surely, in these few verses we have stood within the Holy of Holies of Divine Revelation.
Footnotes for Job 19
1: New Century Bible Commentary, p. 133.
2: Ibid., p. 134.
3: The Expositor's Bible, Vol. 14, p. 226.
4: The New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 573.
5: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 321.
6: The Anchor Bible, Job, p. 132.
7: New Century Bible Commentary, p. 137.
8: Matthew Henry's Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 109.
10: The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 7d, p. 322.
11: R. B. Sweet Publishing Company, No. 1600, p. 44.
12: Matthew Henry's Commentary, op. cit., p. 109.
13: Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible (London: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), Vol. 3, p. 91.
14: New Century Bible Commentary, p. 139
16: Matthew Henry's Commentary, op. cit., p. 111.