Exercise: Read chapters 9-10, and try the following questions;
1. Which verse makes the point that God does not have to answer to anyone for what he does? 2. What acts of God reveal his mighty power? 3. What do you think Job means by; “if a land falls into the hand of the wicked, the judges are blindfolded”? ch.9:24. 4. Which verse sounds as though someone has told him to brush himself up, have a wash, cheer up and smile? 5. What is Job’s reaction or reply to this suggestion? 6. Why does Job want an arbitrator ?(ch.9:33) 7. This chapter speaks of God’s Wisdom and Power. The third attribute of God, usually associated with his wisdom and power, is missing. What is it? 8. Give three verses that infer a legal aspect to the discourse with God. 9. See how many refs you can see to the greatness of God compared to, or considered alongside, the puniness or helplessness of man. 10. How does Job describe death and the grave?
Study Notes on ch. 9.
The Argument. Knowing his own innocence and righteousness, Job is quite categorical in denying the philosophy of his friends, even though at some time in the past he may have believed as they did. He now knew for certain that innocent people suffered, even if he was the only one to do so. In the face of all the maxims and proverbs quoted and believed by the friends, he states clearly what happens in life. God destroys both the blameless and the wicked. When there is a plague or scourge which brings death to many, God does not intervene. He certainly has the power to help, but he looks on like a bystander, as though to be mocking men in their helplessness to do anything. When the wicked take over a land, the innocent are exploited. But why and how is it that the wicked ever get to the position of ruling a land? Surely the judges (those who minister thelaw) can discern wickedness in its early forms. It seems they can’t. God must surely be responsible for who rules over the lives of thousands of his creatures, so for the wicked to get control, God must first blindfold the eyes of the judges, and those other pillars of society who normally can easily see evil when it exists; - much as some may ask today, “How did the Nazi party ever come to power in Germany?” So suffering comes to the innocent and power and wealth comes to the wicked, and it seems that God permits it to happen, according to Job.
“Righteousness” of man. Ch. 4:17. Eliphaz says “Can a mortal man be more righteous than God ? Ch. 9:1. Job says, “Can a mortal man be righteous before God?”. By comparison with God there could be no righteousness, but in terms of justice, Job had fulfilled all that God had demanded. God had not demanded that man be as righteous as himself. But the friends excuse for the “righteous” suffering was that they were not really righteous, only self- righteous, for all men are sinners. Job did not see it as a dispute about his righteousness, but about whether the just suffered or not. His argument was on the basis that God was just and he would as a good judge discern if a man had fulfilled what was demanded of him. Job then argued that suffering comes to anyone - good, bad or ugly, and it was not necessarily a consequence of sinfulness, and it certainly did not mean that if you fulfilled the demands of God that God would exempt you from suffering. His personal experience proved it. When Job says that God mocks the suffering innocents, he really is stating the case as men do, who think of God in human terms. For man to stand by, and do nothing, it would seem that they were mocking, therefore they attribute to God the same gesture.
The Legal Tapestry; This is the backdrop to the whole scene. It is more than significant that God should choose a lawyer of the highest esteem to be instrumental in this vital part of his revelation to man. The whole problem of pain and suffering brings God’s wisdom and justice into question. The main feature of chapter nine is the legal aspects and phraseology. e.g. ch.9:2. “Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one question out of a thousand” ch.9:14 - 20. Job fears that if he did appeal, then the great judge might increase his punishment. ch.9:32. “He is not a man that I might confront him in court.” ch.10:2. “What charges do you have against me?” ch.10:17. “You bring new witnesses against me” In Job’s day, it seems as though disputes in legal terms were in the form of many questions. Job’s friends put many questions throughout the whole debate. Eliphaz asked 19 questions; Bildad asked 10 questions; Zophar asked 9 questions; Elihu asked 12 questions. God eventually speaks and asks 70 questions of Job.
Wisdom & Power; Ch.9:4-10; v.14-19; Job’s awesome reverence for God is shown in his description of the wisdom and might of God.( v 19) The cohorts of Rahab (ch.9:13) apparently refers to an extinct monster. The speech is a classic upon the greatness of God and the utter helplessness and puniness of man. Job is totally resigned to the sovereignty of God. Throughout scripture we see God revealed as a Spirit of Wisdom, Love and Power. Paul writes that God has not given to his children a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, power and a sound mind. It is very significant to notice that the God in the book of Job is a God of wisdom and power only. The “love” part of his character seems to be eclipsed. (More of this in the next speech). But ch.10 v.12 speaks of “Kindness” and “providence” of God. Little wonder that Job knew he would not stand a chance if he legally disputed with God. He would be torn to shreds in cross examination and if God let loose his anger in judgement, there was no telling what he might do. If a man would kick over a stool in anger, what would God be able to kick over in his anger .... Job suggests mountains?
The Sovereignty of God. Ch. 9:12-13; ch.10:8-9. Job does not dispute God’s right to do as he wishes. “If he snatches something away, who could challenge him” and say “Hey what are you doing?” In spite of his acceptance of God’s sovereignty he does not refrain from expressing his surprise and perplexity at God’s treatment of Him. When a man makes a clay pot he makes it to fulfil some function. Job finds it difficult to believe that when God made him the secret purpose of his intention was to fill him with such suffering. (ch.10:13) Nevertheless, God would not be God if he did not know the end from the beginning, so Job clearly states that God must have made him for that purpose. Nothing happens without God planning it, according to Job. (an early Calvinist no doubt- but wrong in the conclusions he drew from his beliefs- so what’s new?)
Job’s Friends. Ch. 9:27-31. Obviously Job’s friends had told him to buck himself up. It often happens today. People get fed up listening to moaning people who sit around all day in their pyjamas and don’t bother to wash or shave or do their hair. We all like to look at pleasant and beautiful things, so some are not slow to tell such people to buck themselves up. Job says, “so what if I do buck myself up and start smiling, will you think of me any differently? No, you will still see me as guilty and dirty. You would still accuse me of uncleanness, even if I had washed myself in soda - and then you would throw me into a sewage pit.” Gem Texts. Ch. 9:33: ch.10:9. “If only there was someone to arbitrate between us” There are legal connotations here also. He knows no man who understands him, or believes he has a case, and he knows that God is far above him, and so superior in wisdom and power, he could not face Him. If only there was someone who could mediate? This is an amazing prayer, in the light of his later expression in ch.16:18-21. There are a number of expressions of Job, which naturally could be interpreted as wistful longings. However, they are in fact spiritual expressions from within the deepest parts of the soul. They are prayers of faith and hope. For in Job, certainly, the light is limited and the God of Jesus Christ who we know now, was not known to Job. However in a wonderful way he suspects that the dark side of God, could very well be as light and wonderful as he knew the wisdom and might of God, to be. This particular cry for an arbitrator is followed in ch.16, by an assured statement of faith that there was an arbitrator in heaven, pleading on his behalf. In the light of what we now know about the mediator Christ Jesus in Hebrews, then these expressions cannot be anything other than the result of the Spirit of God inspiring Job in prayer and faith. (more of this principle later.) Ch. 10:9. “You moulded me like clay.” This is another classic expression in man’s communion with God. The natural man without the knowledge of scripture would never make such a statement. For man is but clay, formed from the mud of the ground. Eliphaz makes use of this truth in his first speech, (ch.4:19) when he refers to “those of us who live in houses of clay”. He was not referring to mud huts, but to human bodies which, similarly, the prophets and writers of the New Testament take up to emphasise the truth, that God is the potter and men are created vessels intended for the use and filling of the creator himself. (1Thess. 4:4 & 2 Tim. 2:21; Isaiah 64:8.)
His Complaint; Ch.10:1-7; v.18-19: “Does it please you to oppress me? Truly a remarkable statement to make. Job paints many moving pictures of how God is treating him; as a boss and his employer; as the wind with a leaf; as a hunter stalking a lion; etc. This is a tragic picture of God treating Job, like a plaything. Similar, to how a cat plays with a mouse before it has rung the last vestige of life from the minute creature. Perhaps it reminded him of times when a lawyer had cross examined someone, over and over again. Probing and searching until some little crack or weakness appeared in the evidence given, or the character of the witness. We see this as a human characteristic and Job is surprised that a God should seem to be acting like men. Job asks “Why do you search after my faults and probe after my sin, even though, you know I am not guilty”. It could perhaps be expected of a man to act in such a way, for even in court a lawyer doesn’t know what he might find if he keeps probing and questioning, but God should surely know there is nothing to find. So why is God doing this? Job asks; perhaps he is just amusing himself with his puny creatures. Perhaps he has made man as a toy, with which to amuse himself; as a child makes plasticine men, then crushes them into oblivion. Perhaps that is how God is. Job accepts that it is quite possible, and if true there is nothing he could do to stop it. However, before he gets crushed, perhaps he might enjoy the privilege of a few words to state his case, to explain what it is like from the creature’s point of view. (ch.10:1-2.) In ch.13:25 we have exactly the same idea almost, regarding how God is treating Job; “You torment me like a wind blown leaf.” Every time you see leaves swirling around in the wind, think of Job.
God the Instigator. We see more phrases and statements to show that Job definitely believed that what was happening to him was not, coincidence fate or plain bad luck; it was all directed by God himself. (Not knowing about Satan, he endorses his claim that it is God doing the mischief) His friends refute all this of course and we shall see in the next speech of Job that he emphasises his belief. Ch.10:16-17- “You stalk me like a lion. You bring new witnesses against me; Your forces come against me wave after wave”
Death and the grave; Ch.10:21- 22; Before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and deep shadow, to the land of deepest night of deep shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness. From statements such as these throughout the book, we can get a picture of what Job and his contemporaries believed concerning the “after-life”. His later and well known statements concerning resurrection and the after-life must be considered against the background of statements such as these which appear on face value to be contradictions. It shows the turmoil of mind.