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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Job 19

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Job's Answer to Bildad: "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"

A. Job laments his comfortless affliction.

1. (Job 19:1-6) Job complains that his friends have not understood him at all.

Then Job answered and said:
"How long will you torment my soul,
And break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have reproached me;
You are not ashamed that you have wronged me.
And if indeed I have erred,
My error remains with me.
If indeed you exalt yourselves against me,
And plead my disgrace against me,
Know then that God has wronged me,
And has surrounded me with His net."

a. How long will you torment my soul: Job answered Bildad with a familiar complaint, that his friends were unsympathetic tormentors of his soul.

i. "They struck at him with their hard words, as if they were breaking stones on the roadside. We ought to be very careful what we say to those who are suffering affliction and trial, for a word, though it seems to be a very little thing, will often cut far more deeply and wound far more terribly than a razor would." (Spurgeon)

ii. We might say that many in the church today are as unloving as Job's friends were. "The church has become very jealous about men being unsound in the faith. If a man becomes unsound in the faith, they draw their ecclesiastical swords and cut at him. But he may be ever so unsound in love, and they don't say anything." (D.L. Moody)

iii. "Job's friends have been, by the general consent of posterity, consigned to endless infamy. May all those who follow their steps be equally enrolled in the annals of bad fame!" (Clarke)

b. And if indeed I have erred, My error remains with me: Job was steadfast in his refusal to agree with his friends that he had caused his crisis by some remarkable sin and refusal to repent.

c. Know then that God has wronged me, and has surrounded me with His net: Job insisted to his friends that he was not a guilty victim before a righteous God. If God had sent or allowed this calamity in Job's life, it could be said that God had wronged Job because the calamity was not a just penalty for some sin in Job.

i. And of course, allowing for the emotional aspect of this pained outpouring, we understand how Job would say, "Know then that God has wronged me." He had reason to think this, and poured out his honest feelings before God and his friends.

ii. "In a sense the Accuser was acting as the hand of God, for he had said to God, 'But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh' (2:5). And God had replied, 'Very well, then, he is in your hands' (2:6). So Job was not totally wrong when he said, 'The hand of God has struck me' (19:21)." (Smick)

2. (Job 19:7-12) Job describes how God has attacked him.

"If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard.
If I cry aloud, there is no justice.
He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass;
And He has set darkness in my paths.
He has stripped me of my glory,
And taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side,
And I am gone;
My hope He has uprooted like a tree.
He has also kindled His wrath against me,
And He counts me as one of His enemies.
His troops come together
And build up their road against me;
They encamp all around my tent."

a. If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard: Job here complained at what was the core of his crisis. Job was accustomed to finding comfort and some sense of an answer from God in his previous trials. Yet now when he cried out to heaven he heard no reply.

i. "Nothing is more natural and usual than for men in misery to cry out for help. Job's great grief was, that neither God nor man would regard his moans or deliver him out of the net." (Trapp)

b. He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass: This is reminiscent of Job's complaint in Job 3:23, where he sadly said that he was one whom God has hedged in.

c. He has stripped me of my glory …: With a deeply moving poetic style, Job described how he felt God had brought him low. He was like a king uncrowned, like a house with its walls broken down, and like an uprooted tree.

d. He counts me as one of His enemies: Though Job could not comprehend it (nor be expected to), God still held him in special favor and care. God put Job into a place where he was expected to believe despite what seemed to be irrefutable circumstances and personal feelings.

e. They encamp all around my tent: In Job 19:8-12, Job recount the reverse progression of an ancient siege and conquering of a city; yet the irony was that Job was not like a mighty city, but only like a humble tent.

i. We can see the reverse progress starting at Job 19:8:

- Captivity (I cannot pass; and He has set darkness in my paths).
- Dethronement (taken the crown from my head)
- Being like a wall torn down (He breaks me down on every side)
- Being like an uprooted tree (my hope He has uprooted like a tree)
- Having a siege set against him (build up their road against me)
- Being surrounded (they encamp all around my tent)

ii. "Reverse this order and you have a step-by-step description of what happened in siege warfare. . . . God's troops laid siege as if Job were a fortified city; but, alas, he was only a tent." (Smick)

3. (Job 19:13-20) Job describes the bitter results of God's attack upon him.

"He has removed my brothers far from me,
And my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
My relatives have failed,
And my close friends have forgotten me.
Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants,
Count me as a stranger;
I am an alien in their sight.
I call my servant, but he gives no answer;
I beg him with my mouth.
My breath is offensive to my wife,
And I am repulsive to the children of my own body.
Even young children despise me;
I arise, and they speak against me.
All my close friends abhor me,
And those whom I love have turned against me.
My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh,
And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth."

a. He has removed my brothers far from me: Job probably meant his three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar). He once regarded them as close brothers but now felt they had forsaken him and turned against him.

b. I call my servant, but he gives no answer: Before his crisis, Job was a wealthy and influential man. Yet now even his own servants did not obey or respect him.

c. My breath is offensive to my wife, and I am repulsive to the children of my own body: Job was in such a miserable state both physically and spiritually, that his wife wanted nothing to do with him (as in Job 2:9). The children Job refers to here must be either grandchildren or those who were symbolically Job's children; it seems that all of Job's ten children were killed in a tragic accident (Job 1:2; 1:18-19).

i. Yet Adam Clarke had another suggestion: "But the mention of his children in this place may intimate that he had still some remaining; that there might have been young ones, who, not being of a proper age to attend the festival of their elder brothers and sisters, escaped that sad catastrophe."

ii. It may also be that Job had in mind that his children cursed or rejected him from the world beyond; he felt that from their place in the after-life they regarded him as repulsive.

iii. "In any society nothing hurts more than rejection by one's family and friends, but what could be worse in a patriarchal society than to have children ridicule the patriarch?" (Smick)

iv. "The corruption of his inwards (besides the noisomeness of his outward ulcers) made his breath strong and unwholesome." (Trapp)

d. My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth: Job here referred to his emaciated and unhealthy condition, and just how close he was to physical death.

i. "The bones nearly pierce and show through the skin, appearing to cleave to the skin." (Bullinger)

ii. By the skin of my teeth: "There is no skin upon the teeth, or scarcely any, and, therefore, Job means that there was next to nothing of him left, like the skin of his teeth." (Spurgeon)

iii. "The KJV made a literal translation of it and thereby created an idiom in the English language for a narrow escape (by the skin of my teeth)." (Smick) Some think that Job meant that only his gums were left unaffected by his diseased condition. Others suggest that Job was so tortured that he gnawed at his skin with his teeth, or on his own lips in agony.

iv. The Puritan commentator John Trapp had another idea: "All I have left me whole is the skin of my teeth; that is, of my gums, into which my teeth are engrafted; the rest of my body is all over of a scab. . . . Junius gives this gloss, Job had nothing left him but the instrument of speech. These, say some, the devil purposely meddled not with, as hoping that therewith he would curse God."

B. Job proclaims his trust in God as redeemer and judge.

1. (Job 19:21-22) Job pleads for pity from his friends.

"Have pity on me, have pity on me,
O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you persecute me as God does,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?"

a. Have pity on me, O you my friends: In light of the eloquence and truth of his previous complaint, Job called upon his friends to therefore pity him. Instead of joining against him in a concert of condemnation, they should have had pity on this one so afflicted by the hand of God.

b. Why do you persecute me as God does: Job made his appeal to God and felt there was no reply given. Now he appealed to his friends, and hoped to at least turn their hearts towards him.

2. (Job 19:23-29) Job's triumphant proclamation of faith.

"Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
If you should say, 'How shall we persecute him?';
Since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves;
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
That you may know there is a judgment."

a. Oh, that my words were written! Job seemed to have no sense that his own personal tragedy and drama would indeed be written and inscribed in a book, and be so for the benefit of countless others through succeeding generations. His words and life were indeed written with an iron pen and lead, forever!

b. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth: This is another of the brilliant flashes of faith in Job's otherwise dark and bleak background of crisis and suffering. Perhaps as he considered that future generations would indeed look at his life and words, it stirred him to a triumphant proclamation of faith.

i. The word translated Redeemer is goel, presenting one of the wonderful concepts of the Old Testament. "The 'Goel' stood for another to defend his cause, to avenge wrongs done to him, and so to acquit him of all charges laid against him." (Morgan)

ii. "A redeemer was a vindicator of one unjustly wronged. He was a defender of the oppressed. A champion of the suffering. An advocate of one unjustly accused. If you were ever wronged, a redeemer would come and stand beside you as your champion and advocate." (Lawson)

iii. "The meaning of the word goel ('redeemer') is fundamental to understanding this passage. The word is important in Old Testament jurisprudence. It had both a criminal and a civil aspect. As 'blood avenger,' a goel had a responsibility to avenge the blood of a slain kinsman (Numbers 35:12-28). He was not seeking revenge but justice. On the civil side he was a redeemer or vindicator. Here he had the responsibility to 'buy back' and so redeem the lost inheritance of a deceased relative. . . . As such he was the defender or champion of the oppressed." (Smick)

iv. "When Job, amid the desolation, declared that he had a 'Goel' living and active, he was uttering a profound truth, the truth that in God, man has a Redeemer in all the fullest senses of that great word. It was a spiritual apprehension of an abiding fact, which fact came into clear shining when God was manifest in flesh." (Morgan)

v. "Christ's kinship with his people is to be thought of with great comfort because it is voluntary. We have some, perhaps, who are akin to us, yet, who wish they were not. Many a time, when a rich man has poor relations, he is half ashamed of the kinship between them, and wishes that it did not exist. Shame upon him for thinking so! But our Lord Jesus Christ's relationship to us is no accident of birth; it was voluntarily assumed by him." (Spurgeon)

vi. "Remember, too, that it was always considered to be the duty of the goel, not merely to redeem by price, but where that failed, to redeem by power. . . . There are two redemptions, - redemption by price and redemption by power, and both of these Christ hath wrought for us; - by price, by his sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary; and by power, by his Divine Spirit coming into our heart, and renewing our soul." (Spurgeon)

c. For I know: We are impressed with Job's certainty. This was something that he knew; it was much more than a hope and more than a guess.

d. That my Redeemer: Job knew that he had a Redeemer; someone to rescue him from his crisis and despair and every accusation set against him.

i. "Verses 25-27 are so tightly knit that there should be no doubt that the Redeemer is God." (Andersen)

ii. "Job cannot understand why God is now acting so completely out of character with what he has always believed. He must somehow recover his friendship with God by means which supersede the theological calculus of the friends. He boldly claims God as his nearest relative." (Andersen)

e. That my Redeemer lives: Job knew that his Redeemer was alive, and that because He lived He could also bring life to Job.

f. And shall stand at last on the earth: This meant that Job knew his Redeemer was more than a spiritual concept; He was a living being who could stand at last on the earth. He knew his Redeemer would come to comfort and vindicate Job, though to this point Job had been conspicuously without evident comfort from God.

i. "At the end of chapter 16 Job was obsessed with the notion that someone in heaven would stand up for him and plead his case. But here in chapter 19 he expected to witness his own vindication on earth." (Smick)

g. And after my skin is destroyed: At this point Job held no more hope for the preservation of his flesh; he knew that his skin would be destroyed (it was already in bad condition according to Job 2:7-8).

h. This I know, that in my flesh I shall see God: Though Job expected the destruction of his skin to be completed, at the same time he had the confidence of faith to know that God would not hide Himself forever; that "in my flesh I shall see God." This would be the moment of Job's comfort, restoration, and vindication, and he would have confidence in it even if it only came after life on this earth was over.

i. "Beyond the heavens Job thought there lived a Kinsman, who saw all his sufferings, and pitied, and would one day appear on earth to vindicate his innocence and avenge his wrongs. He was content to leave the case with Him, sure He would not fail, as his friends had done." (Meyer)

ii. "It has occurred to me that, possibly, Job himself may not have known the full meaning of all that he said. Imagine the patriarch driven into a corner, badgered by his so-called friends, charged by them with all manner of evils until he is quite boiling over with indignation, and, at the same time, smarting under terrible bodily diseases and the dreadful losses which he has sustained; and, at last, he bursts out with this exclamation, 'I shall be vindicated one day; I am sure I shall. I know that my Vindicator liveth. I am sure that, there is One who will vindicate me; and if he never clears my name and reputation as long as I live, it will be done afterwards. There must be a just God, in heaven, who will see me righted; and even though worms devour my body until the last relic of it has passed away, I do verily believe that, somehow, in the far-off ages, I shall be vindicated.'" (Spurgeon)

i. Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another: This bold confidence of Job - though it shines as flash of faith in a dark background of despair - completely routed Satan's confidence that Job could be turned against God. His confidence and trust, blind as it was at the moment, was set upon the fact that he would one day see God for himself, a statement powerfully and poetically repeated for emphasis.

i. Anticipating the fulfillment of all this, no wonder Job could say, "How my heart yearns within me!" With this wonderful revelation and proclamation of his anticipated Redeemer, he clearly though probably unknowingly looked forward to Jesus Christ and His work as Redeemer.

ii. This is entirely in keeping with other passages which refer to God as our Redeemer. "And if the places where God is called Goel in the Old Testament be examined, it will be found that either all or most of them may be, and some of them must be, understood of God the Son, or of Christ, as Genesis 48:16; Isaiah 59:20." (Poole)

iii. Nevertheless, it is also significant that in this passage where Jesus is wonderfully celebrated as a living Redeemer and Vindicator and Kinsman for His people, we also see the shadow of the suffering of Jesus. "Job's language in Chapter 19 is full of haunting premonitions of Christ's crucifixion." (Mason)

- [God] has surrounded me with His net (Job 19:6)
- He has set darkness in my paths (Job 19:8)
- He has stripped me of my glory (Job 19:9)
- He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone (Job 19:10)
- He has kindled His wrath against me, and He counts me as one of His enemies (Job 19:11)
- He has removed my brothers far from me (Job 19:13)
- My close friends have forgotten me (Job 19:14)
- Those whom I love have turned against me (Job 19:19)
- My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh (Job 19:20)

iii. Adam Clarke described how he felt this remarkable revelation given to Job changed him, and gave him a different attitude that is evident in the rest of the Book of Job: "It is not at all probable that Job had this confidence any time before the moment in which he uttered it: it was then a direct revelation, nothing of which he ever had before, else he had never dropped those words of impatience and irritation which we find in several of his speeches. And this may be safely inferred from the consideration, that after this time no such words escaped his lips: He bears the rest of his sufferings with great patience and fortitude; and seems to look forward with steady hope to that day in which all tears shall be wiped away from off all faces, and it is fully proved that the Judge of all the earth has done right." We could say that seeing Jesus changed Job and transformed him in the midst of his suffering.

j. Be afraid of the sword for yourselves: Full of spiritual confidence and faith, Job warned his friends regarding their own disbelief. They seemed to believe more in God as a system of belief rather than in a person, a person whom Job would see and would one day vindicate him.

i. "Job's concluding words, addressed to the friends, sound like a warning that they, too, must face judgment. Unfortunately these verses are largely unintelligible, including verse 27c, which reads 'my kidneys have ended in my chest'." (Andersen)

ii. "How intriguing it is that Job, even while his tragic circumstances have induced in him a fresh fear of God, never exhibits the least fear of God's judgment, and is actually eager to see it through." (Mason)

iii. Job was not afraid of judgment because he was confident that the charges against him were false, and that his Redeemer would vindicate him. However, our Redeemer also clears us of our true guilt. "There is another most comforting thought, - that our Vindicator will clear us from true charges as well as false ones. As for the false charges, what do they matter? It is the true ones that really concern us: can Christ clear us from them? Yes, that he can." (Spurgeon)

iv. "He has now given full vent to his anguish. He has clung for all that to his sense of innocence; and he has risen from his despair to a height from which he sees, for one brief moment, 'the land that is very far off,' the better shore that lies beyond the dark stream of death. And then, silent and exhausted, he has to listen once more to the voice of the third of his counselors." (Bradley)

© 2007 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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