Job 23

CHAPTER XXIII

Job answers; apologizes for his complaining; wishes to plead

his cause in the presence of his Maker, from whom he knows he

should receive justice; but regrets that he cannot find him,

1-9.

He, however, gives himself and his cause up to God, with the

conviction of his own innocence, and God's justice and

goodness, 10-14.

He is, nevertheless, afraid when he considers the majesty of

his Maker, 15-17.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXIII

Verse 2. Even to-day is my complaint bitter] Job goes on to

maintain his own innocence, and shows that he has derived neither

conviction nor consolation from the discourses of his friends. He

grants that his complaint is bitter; but states that, loud as it

may be, the affliction which he endures is heavier than his

complaints are loud.

Mr. Good translates: "And still is my complaint rebellion?" Do

ye construe my lamentations over my unparalleled sufferings as

rebellion against God? This, in fact, they had done from the

beginning: and the original will justify the version of Mr. Good;

for meri, which we translate bitter, may be derived from

marah, "he rebelled."

Verse 3. O that I knew where I might find him!] This and the

following verse may be read thus: "Who will give me the knowledge

of God, that I may find him out? I would come to his

establishment; (the place or way in which he has promised to

communicate himself;) I would exhibit, in detail, my judgment (the

cause I wish to be tried) before his face; and my mouth would I

fill with convincing or decisive arguments;" arguments drawn from

his common method of saving sinners, which I should prove applied

fully to my case. Hence the confidence with which he speaks,

Job 23:6.

Verse 5. I would know the words which he would answer me] He

would speak nothing but what was true, decree nothing that was not

righteous, nor utter any thing that I could not comprehend.

Verse 6. Will he plead against me] He would not exhibit his

majesty and his sovereign authority to strike me dumb, or so

overawe me that I could not speak in my own vindication.

No; but he would put strength in me.] On the contrary, he would

treat me with tenderness, he would rectify my mistakes, he would

show me what was in my favour, and would temper the rigid demands

of justice by the mild interpretations of equity; and where law

could not clear me, mercy would conduct all to the most favourable

issue.

Verse 7. There the righteous might dispute with him]

nochach, might argue or plead. To dispute with God sounds

very harsh.

So should I be delivered for ever] Mr. Good translates: "And

triumphantly should I escape from my condemnation." The Hebrew

word lanetsach may as well be translated to victory as for

ever: and in this sense the Vulgate understood the words: Proponat

aequitatem contra me; et perveniat ad victoriam judicium meum. "He

would set up equity against me; and would lead on my cause to

victory." Coverdale renders thus:-But let hym give me like power

to go to lawe, then am I sure to wynne my matter. Nothing less

than the fullest conviction of his own innocence could have led

Job to express himself thus to the Judge of quick and dead!

Verse 8. Behold, I go forward] These two verses paint in vivid

colours the distress and anxiety of a soul in search of the favour

of God. No means are left untried, no place unexplored, in order

to find the object of his research. This is a true description of

the conduct of a genuine penitent.

Verse 9. On the left hand, where he doth work] In these two

verses Job mentions the four cardinal points of the heavens: the

EAST, by the word kedem, which signifies before; the WEST,

by achor, which signifies after, or the back part; the

NORTH, by semol, which signifies the left; and the SOUTH,

by yamin, which signifies the right. Such is the situation

of the world to a man who faces the east; see Ge 13:9, 11; 28:14.

And from this it appears that the Hebrews, Idumeans, and Arabs had

the same ideas of these points of the heavens. It is worthy of

remark that Job says, He hideth himself on the right hand, (the

south,) that I cannot see him: for in fact, the southern point

of heaven is not visible in Idumea, where Job was. Hence it comes

that when he spake before, Job 9:9, of the constellations of the

antarctic pole, he terms them the hidden chambers of the south;

i.e., those compartments of the celestial concave that never

appeared above the horizon in that place.-See Calmet.

Mr. Good translates these verses as follows:-

Behold! I go forward, and he is not there;

And backward, but I cannot perceive him.

On the left hand I feel for him, but trace him not:

He enshroudeth the right hand, and I cannot see him.

The simple rendering of Coverdale is nervous and correct:-

For though I go before, I fynde hym not:

Yf I come behynde, I can get no knowledge of him:

Yf I go on the left syde to pondre his workes,

I cannot atteyne unto them:

Agayne, yf I go on the right syde, he hydeth himself,

That I cannot se him.

Verse 10. But he knoweth the way that I take] He approves of my

conduct; my ways please him. He tries me: but, like gold, I shall

lose nothing in the fire; I shall come forth more pure and

luminous. If that which is reputed to be gold is exposed to the

action of a strong fire, if it be genuine, it will lose nothing of

its quality, nor of its weight. If it went into the fire gold,

it will come out gold; the strongest fire will neither alter nor

destroy it. So Job: he went into this furnace of affliction an

innocent, righteous man; he came out the same. His character lost

nothing of its value, nothing of its lustre.

Verse 11. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept] I

have carefully marked his providential dealings; and in his

way-his pure and undefiled religion-have I walked. I have not

only been generally but particularly religious: I have attended

carefully to the weightier matters of the law, and have not

forgotten its slightest injunctions.

Coverdale is curious:-Nevertheles my fete kepe his path, his hye

strete have I holden, and not gone out of it. The hye strete is

highway, the causeway, or raised road; formed, as they anciently

were, by stones in the manner of pavement. It has its name from

the Latin strata, paved, via being understood: via lapidibus

strata, "a way paved with stones:" hence street, a raised road or

pavement either in town or country. And hence the four grand Roman

or British roads which intersected this kingdom: viz. Watling

street, Icknild or Ricknild street, Ermin street, and Fosse

street. Some say these streets or roads were made by Bellinus, a

British king.

Fosse street began in Cornwall, passed through Devonshire,

Somersetshire, and along by Titbury upon Toteswould, beside

Coventry, unto Leicester; and thence by the wide plains to Newark

and to Lincoln, where it ends.

Watling street begins at Dover, passes through the middle of

Kent, over the Thames by London, running near Westminster, and

thence to St. Alban's, Dunstable, Stratford, Towcester, Weden,

Lilbourn, Atherston, Wreaken by Severn, Worcester, Stratton,

through Wales unto Cardigan, and on to the Irish sea.

Ermin, or Erminage street, running from St. David's in Wales, to

Southampton.

Ricknild, or Icknild street, running by Worcester, Wycomb,

Birmingham, Lichfield, Derby, Chesterfield, and by York, into

Tynemouth. See Camden, Holinshed, and Minshieu.

Verse 12. The commandment of his lips] The written law that

proceeded from his own mouth.

I have esteemed the words of his mouth] Mr. Good has given a

better version of the original: In my bosom have I stored up the

words of his mouth. The Asiatics carry every thing precious or

valuable in their bosom, their handkerchiefs, jewels, purses, &c.

Job, therefore, intimates that the words of God's mouth were to

him a most precious treasure.

Verse 13. But he is in one mind] The original is

vehu beechad, and is literally, But he is in one: properly

rendered by the Vulgate, Ipse enim solus est. But he is alone. And

not badly rendered by Coverdale.-It is he himself alone. He has no

partner; his designs are his own, they are formed in his infinite

wisdom, and none can turn his determinations aside. It is vain,

therefore, for man to contend with his Maker. He designs my

happiness, and you cannot prevent its accomplishment.

Verse 14. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me]

Coverdale translates:- He rewardeth me into my bosome, and many

other thinges mo doth he, as he maye by his power. chukki may

as well be translated bosom here as in the 12th verse;

Job 23:12; but probably it may mean a

portion, lot, sufficiency: For he hath appointed me my lot; and

like these there are multitudes with him. He diversifies human

affairs: scarcely any two men have the same lot; nor has the same

person the same portion at all times. He has multitudes of

resources, expedients, means, &c., which he employs in governing

human affairs.

Verse 15. Therefore am I troubled] I do not as yet see an end to

my afflictions: he has not exhausted his means of trial;

therefore, when I consider this, I am afraid of him.

Verse 16. For God maketh my heart soft] Prostrates my strength,

deprives me of courage, so that I sink beneath my burden, and I am

troubled at the thought of the Almighty, the self-sufficient and

eternal Being.

Verse 17. Because I was not cut off] "O, why can I not draw

darkness over my face? Why may not thick darkness cover my face?"

Mr. Good. This verse should be read in connection with the

preceding; and then we shall have the following sense. Ver. 16:

"The Lord hath beaten down my strength, and my soul has been

terrified by his fear." Ver. 17: "For it is not this deep night in

which I am enveloped, nor the evils which I suffer, that have

overwhelmed me; I sink only through the fear which the presence of

his Majesty inspires. This is my greatest affliction; sufferings,

diseases, yea, death itself, are nothing in comparison of the

terror which my soul feels in the presence of his tremendous

holiness and justice."

NOTHING can humble a pious mind so much as Scriptural

apprehensions of the majesty of God. It is easy to contemplate his

goodness, loving-kindness, and mercy; in all these we have an

interest, and from them we expect the greatest good: but to

consider his holiness and justice, the infinite righteousness of

his nature, under the conviction that we have sinned, and broken

the laws prescribed by his sovereign Majesty, and to feel

ourselves brought as into the presence of his judgment-seat,-who

can bear the thought? If cherubim and seraphim veil their faces

before his throne, and the holiest soul exclaims,

I loathe myself when God I see,

And into nothing fall;

what must a sinner feel, whose conscience is not yet purged from

dead works and who feels the wrath of God abiding on him? And how

without such a mediator and sacrifice as Jesus Christ is, can any

human spirit come into the presence of its Judge? Those who can

approach him without terror, know little of his justice and

nothing of their sin. When we approach him in prayer, or in any

ordinance, should we not feel more reverence than we generally do?

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