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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Job 19

 

 

Verses 1-6

The hostility of Job"s accusers19:1-6

Job began this reply to Bildad as Bildad had begun both of his speeches: "How long ...?" ( Job 19:2; cf. Job 8:2; Job 18:2). How long would his friends torment him? The ten times ( Job 19:3) may have been ten actual occurrences, not all of which the writer recorded, or Job may have used ten as a round number meaning often. Job claimed that God had not been just in his case ( Job 19:5-6; cf. Job 8:3). Rather than snaring himself in his own net, as Bildad insinuated ( Job 18:8-10), Job claimed that God had trapped him in His net. God had driven him into a hunter"s net. [Note: Rowley, p134.]


Verses 1-29

4. Job"s second reply to Bildad ch19

This speech is one of the more important ones in the book, because in it, Job reached a new low and a new high in his personal experience. He revealed here the extent of his rejection by his friends, relatives, and servants, but he also came to a new confidence in God. Bildad had spoken of the terrors of death, and now Job described the trials of life, his own life. He did so by using seven figures to describe himself: an animal trapped ( Job 19:6), a criminal in court ( Job 19:7), a traveler fenced in ( Job 19:8), a king dethroned ( Job 19:9), a structure destroyed ( Job 19:10), a tree uprooted ( Job 19:10), and a city besieged ( Job 19:11-12). [Note: Wiersbe, pp39-40.]


Verses 7-12

The hostility of God19:7-12

Job agreed with his friends that God was responsible for his troubles, but while they believed God was punishing him for his sins, he contended that God was acting unjustly. He saw evidence of God"s injustice, too, in God"s silence when he cried out for help ( Job 19:7). Job then named ten (cf. Job 19:3) hostile actions of God against himself ( Job 19:8-12). Note the recurrence of "He" in these verses that emphasizes God"s responsibility. Bildad had previously cited what overtakes the wicked. Job now showed that God was the source of their troubles (cf. Job 19:8 b with Job 18:5-6; Job 18:18; Job 19:9 with Job 18:16-17; Job 19:10 a with Job 18:7; Job 18:12; Job 19:10 b with Job 18:16; and Job 19:12 with Job 18:14).

Some readers of Job"s words in this pericope have accused Job of blasphemy. However, blasphemy is "any remark deliberately mocking or contemptuous of God." [Note: Webster"s New World Dictionary of the American Language.] Job was neither mocking God nor was he being contemptuous of God. He was simply describing God as he perceived Him to be. He could not understand why God was apparently treating him unjustly, and he repeatedly asked God to solve this mystery for him.


Verses 13-22

The hostility of Job"s other acquaintances19:13-22

In describing the people Job referred to in this section, he started with those farthest from him and moved to those closest to him, and from Job"s equals to his inferiors socially. Job may have meant by "the skin of my teeth" ( Job 19:20 b)-"narrowly"-or that his teeth had fallen out and only his gums remained. Having found no comfort in other people, Job next turned back to God.


Verses 23-29

Job"s confidence in God19:23-29

"But it is just here, when everything is blackest, that his faith ... like the rainbow in the cloud ... shines with a marvelous splendor." [Note: W. B. MacLeod, The Afflictions of the Righteous, p172.]

This short section contains probably the best-known verses in the book ( Job 19:23-27). They are an affirmation of Job"s great faith in God. One writer argued that Job was not expressing hope but despair because he believed God could vindicate him but would not do so before he died. [Note: Theophile J. Meek, "Job xix25-27 ," Vetus Testamentum6 (1956):100-103. James K. Zink, "Impatient Job ," Journal of Biblical Literature84:2 (June1965):147-52.]

"One might even call Job the first Protestant, in the fullest sense of the word. He takes his stand upon individual faith rather than yielding to pious dogma." [Note: Philip Yancey, "When the Facts Don"t Add Up," Christianity Today, June13 , 1986 , p21.]

God granted Job"s request in Job 19:23-24 better than he could have expected. Probably what he had in mind in Job 19:24 was that someone would chisel letters out of a massive rock and pour in lead making the letters even more prominent and permanent.

Job proceeded to reach out to God in faith ( Job 19:25). Who is the redeemer to whom Job referred? Probably he is the same person he requested elsewhere, when he called for a legal arbiter between himself and God ( Job 9:33), who would be a witness and an advocate for him ( Job 16:19). In this case, too, Job seems to have thought of a person other than God. [Note: Parsons, pp148-49 , 156-57.] However, he may have been God Himself, in view of Job"s confident statement that he believed he would see God ( Job 19:26). [Note: Hartley, p294.]

"The Old Testament records several notable instances where people such as Abraham, Moses and Isaiah "saw" God, and Job doubtless has something similar in mind." [Note: Andersen, p193.]

The advocate of Job 16:19 was in heaven. This opens the possibility for a divine witness, as mentioned earlier. Nevertheless Job called him a Prayer of Manasseh , and this points to a person other than God. The word "redeemer" in Hebrew (goel) means one who provided legal protection for a close relative who could not defend himself or herself (cf. Leviticus 25:23-25; Leviticus 25:47-55; Numbers 35:19-27; Ruth 4:4-15; 2 Samuel 14:11; 1 Kings 16:11; Psalm 119:154; Proverbs 23:11; Jeremiah 50:34).

"In pagan theology a personal patron-deity acted as a champion for an individual human, pleading his cause in the council of the gods. In the Book of Job the angels perform this role. In Job 33:23 Elihu clearly presented his theology of angels that took the place of the pagan servant-deities. He employed the very root (mls) used in Job 16:20 to describe Job"s "Intercessor." In each of these Advocate passages, the third party is greater than man; and in chapter16 he lives in heaven. Yet he is fully capable of taking his stand to testify on earth ( Job 19:25)." [Note: Smick, " Job ," p942.]

Job was confident that his redeemer, whomever he may have had in mind, would take up his cause and vindicate him, either before [Note: Hartley, p296.] or after Job died. [Note: Rowley, p138.] He added that this person would take His stand on earth "at the last" (i.e, finally, not at the end of time). In other words, this person would have the last word.

The Hebrew word translated "earth" ( Job 19:25) literally means "dust." Does this word refer to the grave (cf. Job 7:21; Job 17:16; Job 20:11; Job 21:26; Job 34:15) or the earth (cf. Job 5:6; Job 8:19; Job 14:8; Job 41:33 NASB margin)? Earth seems to be the better possibility because it involves a simpler explanation. If this is the case, Job believed his redeemer would vindicate him in the presence of people who were living on the earth eventually.

Job probably described his skin as flayed ( Job 19:26) to picture his painful death, not that he expected God to flay him while he was alive. He believed he would see God after his death. He evidently saw no hope of vindication before he died.

"Though there is no full grasping of a belief in a worthwhile Afterlife with God, this passage is a notable landmark in the progress toward such a belief." [Note: Ibid, p140.]

The "another" person of Job 19:27 is another beside God, not another beside Job. Job would see God Himself. Evidently Job expected to see God after death, but there is no indication in the text that Job knew God would resurrect his body after he died. He believed in life after death, but he evidently did not know about the certain resurrection of the body. This revelation came from God after Job"s lifetime (cf. Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15).

"While he was anticipating the doctrine of resurrection, he was not spelling out the teaching of a final resurrection for all the righteous." [Note: Smick, " Job ," p943.]

Though Job may not have known who his Redeemer was, we now know that He was Jesus Christ ( 1 Timothy 2:5). In saying what he did, Job was uttering Messianic prophecy, though he probably did not realize he was doing so.

Having made this breakthrough of faith in God, Job seems less frantic hereafter in the book. He now saw his sufferings in the light of eternity, not just in his lifetime. When we can help people gain this perspective on their sufferings, we will find that they, too, find some relief.

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 19:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/job-19.html. 2012.

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