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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Job 23

 

 

Verses 1-17

HE LONGS TO LAY HIS CASE BEFORE GOD

(vv.1-9)

What Eliphaz has said to Job was hardly worth an answer, so that Job practically ignores this and lays before his friends the actual distresses that occupied his mind and heart. They had had no answer for this before, and when he is finished they still have no answer. In spite of all that his friends have said, he tells them, "Even today my complaint is bitter" (v.2). Their much talk had not changed anything for him. He continued to groan in anguish, and says, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat. I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments" (vv.3-4). He wanted God, but felt God had withdrawn from him and would not answer his prayers. How little did he realise that God knew perfectly what Job was feeling and what he was thinking. He did not have to give Job a public audience to air his complaints. In fact, when finally God dealt directly with Job, Job had no arguments to present to Him at all. His first response to God was, "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth" (Job 40:3-4).

But he indicates in verse 5 that if he was just allowed to present his case to God, then he would have an answer that he could understand, for he was sure that God was righteous, in contrast to his friends, and that God would rather take note of him as one who was righteous, not wicked (v.6). Did Job think he needed to argue his case with God, to persuade God that, because he was comparatively righteous, there was no reason for God allowing him to suffer as he did.

He speaks of the upright reasoning with God (v.7). But an upright man should realise he should never dare to reason with God as though he could persuade God to change his mind. However, Job thinks that by this means he would be delivered forever from having to endure what he feels as God's judgment, which was not actually judgment, but discipline. Thank God we know today that our arguments or reasonings have nothing to do with being delivered from judgment, but only the value of the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus accomplish this wonderful result, when one receives Him simply by faith.

Job feels he has tried everything to find where he may meet with God. He had gone forward and backward and to his right hand and his left, but was left completely frustrated. He could not find God. Actually, God was not far from him, and God was seeking Job's deepest blessing. Job would not find it by his seeking, but by honest submission to God's hand.

JOB DEFENDS HIS OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS

(vv.10-12)

This section shows the reason that Job found himself unable to find God. Job's own righteousness was the hindrance. He insists that God knew the way that Job took and that God's test of Job would prove him to "come forth as gold" (v.16). In comparison to others this was no doubt true. His foot had held fast to God's guiding steps: he had kept God's way - contrary to what his friends had said about him. Not only had he not departed from God's commandments, but he had positively treasured God's words more than his necessary food. Because he was the most righteous man on earth, he had too much confidence in his righteousness, and it was necessary for God to take from him the pride that his righteousness had occasioned in him.

Job now had to learn the lesson that his own righteousnesses were to God only "filthy rags," just as Paul had to deeply learn this lesson. Paul writes of reasons he had previously had for confidence in the flesh, ending with, "concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:4-6), "but," he adds, "what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ" (v.7). He would no longer put any confidence in all his virtues. Job later learned this too (Job 42:5-6).

AFRAID OF GOD

(vv.13-17)

"But He is unique, and who can make Him change?" (v.13). Certainly God is unique, but Job thought His uniqueness was limited to awe inspiring majesty, and did not understand God's unique love and grace. Job says that God does whatever His soul desires, but he thought God's desires had no reference to the actual need of His creatures. How totally wrong was this conception! It is true enough that God performs whatever may be appointed for people (v.14), but His appointments are not intended to inspire terror in the heart of a believer, as this did with Job. Indeed, why did he seek God's presence if he was "terrified at His presence?" (v.15). But this is one of the inconsistencies of one who focuses on his troubles rather than on the grace of God.

Job thought it was God who made his heart weak, and that it was God Himself who terrified Job. Why? Because God did not cut him off in death before he had to face the darkness and deep darkness that had now overtaken him (vv.16-17).

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 23:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/job-23.html. 1897-1910.

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