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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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JOB 23

JOB'S EIGHTH SPEECH:

JOB'S YEARNING FOR ACCESS TO GOD;

OH THAT I KNEW WHERE I MIGHT FIND HIM!

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.


 
Verses 1-9
Then Job answered and said, Even to-day 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 for ever 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.
(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.F1 This passage positively does not mean that, Job's attitude has drifted into open rebellion.F2 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.

JOB'S UTMOST CONFIDENCE IN HIS OWN INTEGRITY

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."F3

"In this chapter, Job's confidence in his vindication appears firmer than ever."F4


 
Verses 10-17
But he knoweth the way that I take; When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath 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, even that he doeth. For he performeth 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 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).


Footnotes for Job 23
1: New Century Bible Commentary, p. 159.
2: The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. III, p. 1079.
3: Layman's Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 110.
4: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, p. 478.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 23". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=job&chapter=023>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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