1 Then Job answered and said,
2 "Truly I know that it is so, but how should man be just with God?
3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
4 He is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against him and prospered?
5 He removes the mountains, and they do not know, and he overturns them in his anger.
6 He shakes the earth out of her place, and its pillars tremble.
7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise, and also seals up the stars.
8 He alone spreads out the heavens and treads upon the waves of the sea.
9 He made Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
10 He does great things past finding out and even wonders without number.
11 Behold, he goes by me, and I do not see him. He passes on also, but I do not perceive him.
12 Behold, he takes away. Who can hinder him? Who will say to him, 'What are you doing?'
13 If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers stoop under him.
14 How much less shall I answer him and choose out my words to reason with him?
15 Though I were righteous, yet I would not answer. But I would make supplication to my judge.
16 If I had called, and he had answered me, yet I would not believe that he had listened to my voice.
17 For he breaks me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause.
18 He will not allow me to take my breath, but fills me with bitterness.
19 If I speak of strength, behold, he is strong. And if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?
20 If I justify myself, my own mouth will condemn me. If I say, 'I am perfect,' that also will prove me perverse.
21 Though I were perfect, yet I would not know my soul. I would despise my life.
22 This is one thing; therefore, I said, 'He destroys the perfect and the wicked.'
23 If the scourge slays suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. He covers the faces of its judges. If not, where, and who is he?
25 Now my days are swifter than a runner. They flee away. They see no good.
26 They have passed away as the swift ships, as the eagle that hastes to the prey.
27 If I say, 'I will forget my complaint. I will leave off my heaviness and comfort myself,'
28 I am afraid of all my sorrows. I know that you will not hold me innocent.
29 If I am wicked, why then do I labor in vain?
30 If I wash myself with snow water and make my hands clean with lye,
31 Yet you will plunge me in the ditch, and my own clothes shall abhor me.
32 For he is not a man as I am that I should answer him, that we should come together in judgment.
33 There is no judge between us who might lay his hand upon us both.
34 Let him take away his rod from me, and do not let his fear terrify me.
35 Then I would speak and not fear him, but it is not so with me."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This and the following chapter contain Job's answer to Bildad, and in this he asserts the strict justice at God; which is such, that no man can be just in his sight, not being able to answer to one charge, or for one sin, of a thousand he is guilty of (verses 1-3); and that such are his wisdom and power, that the most daring man cannot expect to succeed in an opposition to him (verse 4); instances are given of his power in the works of nature and providence (verses 5-10); notice is taken of the imperceptibleness of his actions and motions, and of his sovereignty in all his ways (verses 11-12); and of his fierce wrath and anger, which is such as obliges the proudest of men to stoop under him; and therefore Job chose not to contend in a judicial way with him, but in a suppliant manner would entreat him, since his hand was so heavy upon him (verses 13-21); he affirms, in direct opposition to Bildad and his friends, and insists upon it, that God afflicts both the righteous and the wicked; and even, gives the earth to the latter when he slays the former (verses 22-24); he then observes the shortness of his days, and complains of his heavy afflictions (verses 25-28); and concludes, that it was in vain for him to expect his cause to be heard before God, there being no judge between them; and wishes that the dread of the Divine Majesty might be taken from him, and then he would freely and without fear speak to him (verses 29-35).
[v.2a] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "I take this rather as a pious confession of man's sinfulness, and [Job's] own in particular, that, if God should deal with any of us according to the merit of our iniquities, we should certainly be undone."
[v.2b] - "with" - Or, "before."
[v.3] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "God can ask a thousand puzzling questions which those that quarrel with him, and arraign his proceedings, cannot give an answer to. When God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind he asked him a great many questions ('Dost thou know this?' 'Canst thou do that?') to none of which Job could give an answer (Job, ch. 38 and 39). God can easily manifest the folly of the greatest pretenders to wisdom. God can lay to our charge a thousand offenses, can draw up against us a thousand articles of impeachment, and we cannot answer him so as to acquit ourselves from the imputation of any of them, but must, by silence, give consent that they are all true. We cannot set aside one as foreign, another as frivolous, and another as false. We cannot, as to one, deny the fact, and plead not guilty, and, as to another, deny the fault, confess and justify. No, we are not able to answer him, but must lay our hand upon our mouth, as Job did (Job 40:4-5), and cry, 'Guilty, guilty.'"
[v.7] - "Thus great is God's power; and how great then is his goodness, which causes his sun to shine even upon the evil and unthankful, though he could withhold it!" —Matthew Henry
[v.10] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "Consider what God does in the government of the world, and you will say, 'He is wise in heart and mighty in strength.' He does many things and great, many and great to admiration (verse 10)... God is a great God, and does great things, a wonder-working God; his works of wonder are so many that we cannot number them and so mysterious that we cannot find them out. O the depth of his counsels!"
[v.11-12] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "God is not obliged to give us a reason of what he does. The meanings of his proceedings we do not now know; it will be time enough to know hereafter, when it will appear that what seemed now to be done by prerogative was done in infinite wisdom and for the best."
[v.20-21] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "A good man, who knows the deceitfulness of his own heart, and is jealous over it with a godly jealousy, and has often discovered that amiss there which had long lain undiscovered, is suspicious of more evil in himself than he is really conscious of, and therefore will by no means think of justifying himself before God. If we say we have no sin, we not only deceive ourselves, but we affront God; for we sin in saying so, and give the lie to the Scripture, which has concluded all under sin."
[v.22-24] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "It must be owned that there is very much truth in what Job here means, that temporal judgments, when they are sent abroad, fall both upon good and bad... Let this reconcile God's children to their troubles; they are but trials, designed for their honor and benefit, and, if God be pleased with them, let them not be displeased; if he laugh at the trial of the innocent, knowing how glorious the issue of it will be, at destruction and famine let them also laugh (Job 5:22), and triumph over them, saying, 'O death! where is your sting?'... It must be owned that there is too much passion in what Job here says. The manner of expression is peevish. When he meant that God afflicts he ought not to have said, 'He destroys both the perfect and the wicked;' when he meant that God pleases himself with the trial of the innocent he ought not to have said, 'He laughs at it,' for he doth not afflict willingly. When the spirit is heated, either with dispute or with discontent, we have need to set a watch before the door of our lips, that we may observe a due decorum in speaking of divine things."
[v.22] - Paraphrased by Elihu in Job 34:9.
[v.24] - "the wicked" - That is, "the wicked one." It is to be understood as singular.
[v.25-35] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "When we are in trouble we are allowed to complain to God, as the Psalmist often, but must by no means complain of God, as Job here... Good men do not always speak like themselves; but God, who considers their frame and the strength of their temptations, gives them leave afterward to unsay what was amiss by repentance and will not lay it to their charge... From all this let us take occasion, (1.) To stand in awe of God, and to fear the power of his wrath... (2.) To pity those who are wounded in spirit, and pray earnestly for them, because in that condition they know not how to pray for themselves. (3.) Carefully to keep up good thoughts of God in our minds, for hard thoughts of him are the inlets of much mischief. (4.) To bless God that we are not in such a disconsolate condition as poor Job was here in, but that we walk in the light of the Lord; let us rejoice therein, but rejoice with trembling."
[v.33] - "There is no judge between us" - At that time there was no judge, but when Christ came, He became that judge. Christ's death on the cross gave the only way for an enemy of God to be reconciled with Him (Ephesians 2:11-22, note verse 16).