Job Chapters 8-37
Bildad's First Speech (Job 8)
A. Bildad proclaims God's justice - 8:1-7
By referring to Job's words as a "blustering wind" (v. 2), Bildad is not mocking them for their emptiness but is acknowledging them to be powerfully persuasive and devastating to his opponent's arguments. "Your words," Job, "are like a powerful tornado, threatening to uproot and destroy cherished beliefs about God and the moral order of the universe. If you keep on talking like this you're going to undermine everyone's confidence in the goodness and justice of God."
Bildad's reasoning (v. 3) is as follows: If Job had not sinned, his suffering would be evidence of God's perversion of the moral order and of justice. But since God cannot act perversely or unjustly, the only conclusion left is that Job sinned sufficiently to deserve his suffering. By asking, "Can God do wrong?", Bildad ends the argument before it ever begins!
Bildad goes beyond Eliphaz and openly accuses Job's children of being responsible for their own deaths. Since they died prematurely, they must have sinned. God simply released them into the power of their transgression. The fact that Job is at least still alive proves only that his sins were not as grievous as theirs (vv. 5-7). So take advantage of the opportunity provided by God and repent!
B. Bildad proves God's justice - 8:8-19
1. by an appeal to tradition - vv. 8-10
2. by an appeal to nature - vv. 11-19
a. the papyrus - vv. 11-13
b. the spider's web - vv. 14-15
c. the well-watered plant - vv. 16-19
C. Conclusion and Application - 8:20-22
His point is simple: God never reverses the law of retribution. If the wicked prosper, it is brief and illusory. Their eventual fall is certain. If you are truly righteous, God will eventually come to your rescue.
Job's Second Speech (Job 9-10)
A. Job's frustration at the prospect of disputing with God - 9:1-20
1. its futility - vv. 1-4
Job agrees with Bildad on this one point: God does not pervert justice. So what hope do I have, asks Job, of contending with him on this matter? Entering into litigation with God is futile. How could Job possibly withstand God's questions under cross-examination?
2. the reasons - vv. 5-13
a. his creative prowess - vv. 5-10
Volcanoes (v. 5), earthquakes (v. 6), eclipses (v. 7), God's subjugation of evil powers (the sea, v. 8), and his sovereignty over the stars (v. 9, Bear = the Big Dipper; Orion = the hunter; Pleiades = a small patch of icy-blue stars moving away from the earth at 16,000 mph), make Job's prospects for success non-existent.
b. his elusive presence - vv. 11-13
3. its hopelessness - vv. 14-20
Again, "if the cross-examination should focus on Job, he could not withstand the strength of God's interrogation (v. 14); even if he has nothing but right on his side, he could not withstand God's verbal onslaught any more than he has withstood his physical assaults (v. 15)" (Clines, 233).
B. Job laments God's apparent indifference - 9:21-24
His point is that he sees injustice everywhere: the innocent suffer and the wicked prosper and nothing seems to be done about it. If God isn't the one ultimately responsible for this, who is (v. 24b)?
C. Job laments the brevity of his life - 9:25-31
Job compares the passage of his days to a swift runner, to Egyptian reed skiffs (boats legendary for their speed) and to the rapid flight of an eagle.
In vv. 27-31 Job employs vivid imagery to make his point. Perhaps a solemn oath of cleansing and a public ritual will establish his innocence (washing with lye-soap = a symbolic declaration of innocence). "The image Job uses for God's expected ignoring of his claim to innocence is a striking one: God will take him, as he stands freshly clean from his washing, and will plunge him mother-naked into a filthy pit or cesspool, so that his very clothes will shun him" (Clines, 242). In other words, no matter how valiantly he strives for vindication, all is in vain.
D. More frustration about disputing with God - 9:32-35
E. Job complains about God's inconsistency in dealing with him - 10:1-17
Isn't a plaintiff required to state the charges against the defendant? What possible motive could God have for afflicting Job? What "profit" or "good" (v. 3) could come of it? Doesn't the worker take pride in his efforts? Why, then, is God treating Job, his creation, this way? It seems as if God is resorting to methods that humans require because of their limitations. "Do you have 'eyes of flesh,' God, which because they see only partially look on the externals, not on the internal reality? Are you so limited by time that you must employ such tactics in searching out my every sin?"
The most painful and confusing thing is that God knows (v. 7) Job is innocent and Job knows that God knows!
F. Job contemplates his death - 10:18-22
Job's confusion continues: "God, you knew all this beforehand. So why did you even bring me forth from my mother's womb? It seems like a charade" (vv. 18-19). Furthermore, "since I'm obviously going to die soon, won't you at least grant me a little relief in the few days I have left?" (vv. 20-22).
Zophar's First Speech (Job 11)
Zophar completely lacks the moderation we have seen in Eliphaz and Bildad. Perhaps Zophar has been sitting impatiently and with frustration while his two comrades spoke: "Get on with it, for heaven's sake. Stop mincing words and tell it like it is. Don't let Job bamboozle you any longer!" Whereas Eliphaz suggested that Job's suffering was the result of some relatively trifling sin and was bound to end soon (4:5-6), and whereas Bildad conceded Job's essential righteousness (after all, he was still alive, unlike his children), Zophar insists that Job's agony is wholly deserved. In fact, Zophar will go so far as to say that Job is actually better off than he deserves!
A. His accusation - 11:1-4
B. His appeal - 11:5-12
In v. 6b Zophar suggests that Job is getting off easy. "God is only punishing you for a percentage of your sins. You've been treated better than you deserve. Instead of complaining, be glad God has already graciously forgotten some of your sins!"
C. His advice - 11:13-20
Job's Third Speech (Job 12-14)
In two places Job strikes back at all three of his "friends" and their misguided counsel - in 12:1-12 and 13:1-19. In between these two responses is a hymn (12:13-25) describing God's awesome and inscrutable power over the affairs of men. The remainder of this section is Job's cry of agony to God (13:20-14:22).
A. His complaint against his friends - 12:1-12; 13:1-19
For the first time Job shows contempt for his friends. He has before expressed his disappointment in them and pronounced them disloyal, but here he goes further and reproaches them for their pride and calloused attitude. Note his scathing sarcasm in 12:2. He portrays them as claiming that they alone possess wisdom so that when they die wisdom will die with them.
In 13:7-12 Job declares that God would not be pleased to find that those attempting to justify his ways have resorted to lies just to keep God in the clear. Job is amazed that anyone would use falsehood in the service of truth. He wonders, in astonishment, if they think they are doing God a favor by uttering lies on his behalf! "Do you really think you are a benefit to God when the only way you can defend his treatment of me is with lies?"
13:15 is a famous verse that may be taken in one of two ways: (1) According to the KJV and NIV we should translate it, "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him." In other words, no matter what happens to me, I still remain confident that God will vindicate me. (2) Or it may be, "Behold, He will slay me; I have no hope." Thus Job anticipated that his self-defense would result in his being killed by God. But he intends to go ahead anyway, firmly persuaded of his innocence.
B. His confession of God's sovereignty - 12:13-25
C. His cry to God for deliverance - 13:20-14:22
Job asks for two things in vv. 20-21, two "pre-trial" conditions, so to speak. He asks that God withdraw his hand momentarily, that God end his physical suffering so that he might have the energy and endurance to pursue his case. He also asks that God's glorious presence not terrify him into bungling his case. He also pleads with God to be open with him about his alleged sins. "Be specific. Tell me what I've done" (vv. 22-23). In the absence of any overt transgression he has committed while an adult, Job concludes that God must be punishing him for some dark secret out of his childhood that He refuses to forget.
In chapter fourteen Job changes his focus from himself in particular to mankind in general. It seems to him, in light of what he knows of humanity, that there is no way he merits the kind of meticulous divine surveillance he is experiencing.
1. the brevity of life - vv. 1-6
2. the finality of death - vv. 7-17
3. the absence of hope - vv. 18-22
Eliphaz's Second Speech (Job 15)
A. A rebuke - 15:1-16
1. for Job's irreverent talk - vv. 1-6
He ridicules Job, insisting that his words flow from a belly filled with hot air rather than from his mind or heart, the center of reason. "You have belched out useless words that will serve only to undermine the faith of others. Your words are causing others to stumble, so shut up!"
2. for Job's unwarranted claim to be wise - vv. 7-13
3. for Job's unwarranted claim to be pure - vv. 14-16
These verses are accurate in their portrayal of man's total depravity apart from divine grace, but to apply them to Job as an explanation of why he is suffering is contrary to the evidence of Job's life.
B. A reminder - 15:17-35
Whereas Job had earlier argued that the wicked do in fact prosper, Eliphaz insists that such an idea is heresy. He tries to convince Job that his earlier blessings and prosperity were ephemeral and fleeting and that he is now suffering the inevitable fate reserved for the sinfully rebellious. Eliphaz offers no consolation whatsoever.
Job's Fourth Speech (Job 16-17)
A. Job's disgust with his friends - 16:1-6
B. Job's distress under God's sovereignty - 16:7-17
C. Job's desire for a heavenly intercessor - 16:18-22
D. Job's despair in his condition - 17:1-16
Bildad's Second Speech (Job 18)
A. He rebukes Job for his insolence - 18:1-4
B. He reminds Job of the woes of the wicked - 18:5-21
In sum, Bildad tells Job that although his pain may now be great, if he should continue on in his chosen path it will only result in an even more horrible fate.
Job's Fifth Speech (Job 19)
A. Hostility from his friends - 19:1-6
B. Hostility from his God - 19:7-12
C. Hostility from everyone else - 19:13-22
The statement in v. 20, "I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth", may mean, "I've barely escaped" or "I had a close call." Or it may be a reference to his gums! In other words, he may be saying that disease had destroyed his teeth and only his gums are left.
D. Hope remains for him - 19:23-29
"Hope" is not to be identified as mere wishful thinking (such as, "I hope the stock market goes up" or "I hope I win the lottery"). Hope is present confidence in a future certainty. Job here declares his hope in a kinsman redeemer (v. 25) who will come to his defense. This is a reference to an ancient Israelite custom by which the nearest kin guaranteed the security and rights of his fellow kinsman. A "redeemer" was a vindicator of one unjustly exploited, a defender of the oppressed, a champion of the week, an advocate of the accused. The term "kinsman-redeemer" also functions as one of Yahweh's titles (Exod. 6:6; 15:13; Ps. 74:2; 77:15).
* Note that Job refers to God as "my" redeemer, indicating that notwithstanding all that's been said, he is confident that God is still on his side.
* Job anticipates that this will occur "in the end" or "at the last." Thus he takes the "long view" of ultimate vindication.
* The prospect of vindication by his "kinsman-redeemer" causes his "heart" to "faint" or to "yearn" within him. It is clearly an intense and emotionally overwhelming experience.
Zophar's Second Speech (Job 20)
A. Zophar rebukes Job for his insolence - 20:1-3
B. Zophar reminds Job of the woes of the wicked - 20:4-29
Zophar uses vivid imagery in vv. 12-14 to make his point. His argument is that "a wicked person savors his evil-doing just as a child holds a sweet morsel under the tongue, refusing to swallow it until he squeezes out every bit of flavor" (Hartley, 305). But eventually it will dissolve, . . . it will turn bitter in his stomach. It may taste good now but one day you'll need some moral Tums!
Job's Sixth Speech (Job 21)
A. He calls for their silence - 21:1-6
B. He claims that the wicked do indeed prosper - 21:7-21
C. He counters the law of retribution - 21:22-34
Eliphaz's Third Speech (Job 22)
Without the slightest evidence, Eliphaz accuses Job of all kinds of sins and social misdeeds (contrast this with his moderately charitable assessment of Job in his first speech). He accuses Job of insolence against God (vv. 12-20) and calls on him to repent and be restored to his former prosperity.
Job's Seventh Speech (Job 23-24)
Job rejects Eliphaz's counsel. He refuses to compromise his integrity by contriving repentance when he knows he is innocent. In these two chapters we see much of what was said in earlier speeches: bitterness, complaints about injustice against the righteous, and Job's consistent declaration of innocence.
Bildad's Third Speech (Job 25)
This speech is quite short (six verses) and Zophar has nothing further to say. Why?
Job's Eighth Speech (Job 26-31)
In these concluding chapters the most compelling comments come in the form of an oath of innocence wherein Job invokes horrible consequences upon himself if he should be shown to have lied about his righteousness. See especially 31:5-8,10,22,40. With this, "the words of Job are ended" (31:40).
Elihu's Speech (Job 32-36)
Elihu's arrogance is seen in his opening comments in 32:1-5. He is pompous and prideful, insisting that Job and the others listen to every word he speaks (cf. 32:10; 33:1-3,5,31-33; 34:2,10,16; 37:14).
In chapter 33 he refutes Job's charge that God does not hear him (see vv. 13-14). In chapter 34 he refutes Job's charge that God is unjust (see v. 12). In chapter 35 he refutes Job's charge that it is useless to serve God and in chapters 36-37 he elaborates on God's justice and sovereignty.
Some Concluding Observations
1. The fulfillment of our obligation to God does not place God under obligation to us. God is no one's debtor.
2. Our responsibility to obey God is never suspended on whether He shows himself. We are to be holy even when He remains hidden.
3. The fact that life is unfair does not mean that God is. If life were fair, Jesus would never have died.
4. Justice is not necessarily for now. Retribution for moral evil and reward for moral excellence are guaranteed only in the age to come.
5. In the midst of our struggles and in the midst of our suffering, heaven is always the final word.