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Job Replies: God’s Majesty Is Unsearchable


Then Job answered:


“How you have helped one who has no power!

How you have assisted the arm that has no strength!


How you have counseled one who has no wisdom,

and given much good advice!


With whose help have you uttered words,

and whose spirit has come forth from you?


The shades below tremble,

the waters and their inhabitants.


Sheol is naked before God,

and Abaddon has no covering.


He stretches out Zaphon over the void,

and hangs the earth upon nothing.


He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,

and the cloud is not torn open by them.


He covers the face of the full moon,

and spreads over it his cloud.


He has described a circle on the face of the waters,

at the boundary between light and darkness.


The pillars of heaven tremble,

and are astounded at his rebuke.


By his power he stilled the Sea;

by his understanding he struck down Rahab.


By his wind the heavens were made fair;

his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.


These are indeed but the outskirts of his ways;

and how small a whisper do we hear of him!

But the thunder of his power who can understand?”


Job Maintains His Integrity


Job again took up his discourse and said:


“As God lives, who has taken away my right,

and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,


as long as my breath is in me

and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,


my lips will not speak falsehood,

and my tongue will not utter deceit.


Far be it from me to say that you are right;

until I die I will not put away my integrity from me.


I hold fast my righteousness, and will not let it go;

my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.



“May my enemy be like the wicked,

and may my opponent be like the unrighteous.


For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts them off,

when God takes away their lives?


Will God hear their cry

when trouble comes upon them?


Will they take delight in the Almighty?

Will they call upon God at all times?


I will teach you concerning the hand of God;

that which is with the Almighty I will not conceal.


All of you have seen it yourselves;

why then have you become altogether vain?



“This is the portion of the wicked with God,

and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty:


If their children are multiplied, it is for the sword;

and their offspring have not enough to eat.


Those who survive them the pestilence buries,

and their widows make no lamentation.


Though they heap up silver like dust,

and pile up clothing like clay—


they may pile it up, but the just will wear it,

and the innocent will divide the silver.


They build their houses like nests,

like booths made by sentinels of the vineyard.


They go to bed with wealth, but will do so no more;

they open their eyes, and it is gone.


Terrors overtake them like a flood;

in the night a whirlwind carries them off.


The east wind lifts them up and they are gone;

it sweeps them out of their place.


It hurls at them without pity;

they flee from its power in headlong flight.


It claps its hands at them,

and hisses at them from its place.


Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found


“Surely there is a mine for silver,

and a place for gold to be refined.


Iron is taken out of the earth,

and copper is smelted from ore.


Miners put an end to darkness,

and search out to the farthest bound

the ore in gloom and deep darkness.


They open shafts in a valley away from human habitation;

they are forgotten by travelers,

they sway suspended, remote from people.


As for the earth, out of it comes bread;

but underneath it is turned up as by fire.


Its stones are the place of sapphires,

and its dust contains gold.



“That path no bird of prey knows,

and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.


The proud wild animals have not trodden it;

the lion has not passed over it.



“They put their hand to the flinty rock,

and overturn mountains by the roots.


They cut out channels in the rocks,

and their eyes see every precious thing.


The sources of the rivers they probe;

hidden things they bring to light.



“But where shall wisdom be found?

And where is the place of understanding?


Mortals do not know the way to it,

and it is not found in the land of the living.


The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’

and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’


It cannot be gotten for gold,

and silver cannot be weighed out as its price.


It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,

in precious onyx or sapphire.


Gold and glass cannot equal it,

nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.


No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;

the price of wisdom is above pearls.


The chrysolite of Ethiopia cannot compare with it,

nor can it be valued in pure gold.



“Where then does wisdom come from?

And where is the place of understanding?


It is hidden from the eyes of all living,

and concealed from the birds of the air.


Abaddon and Death say,

‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’



“God understands the way to it,

and he knows its place.


For he looks to the ends of the earth,

and sees everything under the heavens.


When he gave to the wind its weight,

and apportioned out the waters by measure;


when he made a decree for the rain,

and a way for the thunderbolt;


then he saw it and declared it;

he established it, and searched it out.


And he said to humankind,

‘Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;

and to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”


Job Finishes His Defense


Job again took up his discourse and said:


“O that I were as in the months of old,

as in the days when God watched over me;


when his lamp shone over my head,

and by his light I walked through darkness;


when I was in my prime,

when the friendship of God was upon my tent;


when the Almighty was still with me,

when my children were around me;


when my steps were washed with milk,

and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!


When I went out to the gate of the city,

when I took my seat in the square,


the young men saw me and withdrew,

and the aged rose up and stood;


the nobles refrained from talking,

and laid their hands on their mouths;


the voices of princes were hushed,

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.


When the ear heard, it commended me,

and when the eye saw, it approved;


because I delivered the poor who cried,

and the orphan who had no helper.


The blessing of the wretched came upon me,

and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.


I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;

my justice was like a robe and a turban.


I was eyes to the blind,

and feet to the lame.


I was a father to the needy,

and I championed the cause of the stranger.


I broke the fangs of the unrighteous,

and made them drop their prey from their teeth.


Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,

and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix;


my roots spread out to the waters,

with the dew all night on my branches;


my glory was fresh with me,

and my bow ever new in my hand.’



“They listened to me, and waited,

and kept silence for my counsel.


After I spoke they did not speak again,

and my word dropped upon them like dew.


They waited for me as for the rain;

they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.


I smiled on them when they had no confidence;

and the light of my countenance they did not extinguish.


I chose their way, and sat as chief,

and I lived like a king among his troops,

like one who comforts mourners.



“But now they make sport of me,

those who are younger than I,

whose fathers I would have disdained

to set with the dogs of my flock.


What could I gain from the strength of their hands?

All their vigor is gone.


Through want and hard hunger

they gnaw the dry and desolate ground,


they pick mallow and the leaves of bushes,

and to warm themselves the roots of broom.


They are driven out from society;

people shout after them as after a thief.


In the gullies of wadis they must live,

in holes in the ground, and in the rocks.


Among the bushes they bray;

under the nettles they huddle together.


A senseless, disreputable brood,

they have been whipped out of the land.



“And now they mock me in song;

I am a byword to them.


They abhor me, they keep aloof from me;

they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.


Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me,

they have cast off restraint in my presence.


On my right hand the rabble rise up;

they send me sprawling,

and build roads for my ruin.


They break up my path,

they promote my calamity;

no one restrains them.


As through a wide breach they come;

amid the crash they roll on.


Terrors are turned upon me;

my honor is pursued as by the wind,

and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.



“And now my soul is poured out within me;

days of affliction have taken hold of me.


The night racks my bones,

and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.


With violence he seizes my garment;

he grasps me by the collar of my tunic.


He has cast me into the mire,

and I have become like dust and ashes.


I cry to you and you do not answer me;

I stand, and you merely look at me.


You have turned cruel to me;

with the might of your hand you persecute me.


You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it,

and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.


I know that you will bring me to death,

and to the house appointed for all living.



“Surely one does not turn against the needy,

when in disaster they cry for help.


Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?

Was not my soul grieved for the poor?


But when I looked for good, evil came;

and when I waited for light, darkness came.


My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still;

days of affliction come to meet me.


I go about in sunless gloom;

I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.


I am a brother of jackals,

and a companion of ostriches.


My skin turns black and falls from me,

and my bones burn with heat.


My lyre is turned to mourning,

and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.



“I have made a covenant with my eyes;

how then could I look upon a virgin?


What would be my portion from God above,

and my heritage from the Almighty on high?


Does not calamity befall the unrighteous,

and disaster the workers of iniquity?


Does he not see my ways,

and number all my steps?



“If I have walked with falsehood,

and my foot has hurried to deceit—


let me be weighed in a just balance,

and let God know my integrity!—


if my step has turned aside from the way,

and my heart has followed my eyes,

and if any spot has clung to my hands;


then let me sow, and another eat;

and let what grows for me be rooted out.



“If my heart has been enticed by a woman,

and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door;


then let my wife grind for another,

and let other men kneel over her.


For that would be a heinous crime;

that would be a criminal offense;


for that would be a fire consuming down to Abaddon,

and it would burn to the root all my harvest.



“If I have rejected the cause of my male or female slaves,

when they brought a complaint against me;


what then shall I do when God rises up?

When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?


Did not he who made me in the womb make them?

And did not one fashion us in the womb?



“If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,

or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,


or have eaten my morsel alone,

and the orphan has not eaten from it—


for from my youth I reared the orphan like a father,

and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow—


if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,

or a poor person without covering,


whose loins have not blessed me,

and who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;


if I have raised my hand against the orphan,

because I saw I had supporters at the gate;


then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,

and let my arm be broken from its socket.


For I was in terror of calamity from God,

and I could not have faced his majesty.



“If I have made gold my trust,

or called fine gold my confidence;


if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great,

or because my hand had gotten much;


if I have looked at the sun when it shone,

or the moon moving in splendor,


and my heart has been secretly enticed,

and my mouth has kissed my hand;


this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,

for I should have been false to God above.



“If I have rejoiced at the ruin of those who hated me,

or exulted when evil overtook them—


I have not let my mouth sin

by asking for their lives with a curse—


if those of my tent ever said,

‘O that we might be sated with his flesh!’—


the stranger has not lodged in the street;

I have opened my doors to the traveler—


if I have concealed my transgressions as others do,

by hiding my iniquity in my bosom,


because I stood in great fear of the multitude,

and the contempt of families terrified me,

so that I kept silence, and did not go out of doors—


O that I had one to hear me!

(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)

O that I had the indictment written by my adversary!


Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;

I would bind it on me like a crown;


I would give him an account of all my steps;

like a prince I would approach him.



“If my land has cried out against me,

and its furrows have wept together;


if I have eaten its yield without payment,

and caused the death of its owners;


let thorns grow instead of wheat,

and foul weeds instead of barley.”


The words of Job are ended.


Select a resource above

Verses 1–4

Job derided Bildad's answer; his words were a mixture of peevishness and self-preference. Bildad ought to have laid before Job the consolations, rather than the terrors of the Almighty. Christ knows how to speak what is proper for the weary, Isa 50:4; and his ministers should not grieve those whom God would not have made sad. We are often disappointed in our expectations from our friends who should comfort us; but the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, never mistakes, nor fails of his end.

Verses 5–14

Many striking instances are here given of the wisdom and power of God, in the creation and preservation of the world. If we look about us, to the earth and waters here below, we see his almighty power. If we consider hell beneath, though out of our sight, yet we may conceive the discoveries of God's power there. If we look up to heaven above, we see displays of God's almighty power. By his Spirit, the eternal Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters, the breath of his mouth, Ps 33:6, he has not only made the heavens, but beautified them. By redemption, all the other wonderful works of the Lord are eclipsed; and we may draw near, and taste his grace, learn to love him, and walk with delight in his ways. The ground of the controversy between Job and the other disputants was, that they unjustly thought from his afflictions that he must have been guilty of heinous crimes. They appear not to have duly considered the evil and just desert of original sin; nor did they take into account the gracious designs of God in purifying his people. Job also darkened counsel by words without knowledge. But his views were more distinct. He does not appear to have alleged his personal righteousness as the ground of his hope towards God. Yet what he admitted in a general view of his case, he in effect denied, while he complained of his sufferings as unmerited and severe; that very complaint proving the necessity for their being sent, in order to his being further humbled in the sight of God.

Verses 1–6

Job's friends now suffered him to speak, and he proceeded in a grave and useful manner. Job had confidence in the goodness both of his cause and of his God; and cheerfully committed his cause to him. But Job had not due reverence when he spake of God as taking away his judgment, and vexing his soul. To resolve that our hearts shall not reproach us, while we hold fast our integrity, baffles the designs of the evil spirit.

Verses 7–10

Job looked upon the condition of a hypocrite and a wicked man, to be most miserable. If they gained through life by their profession, and kept up their presumptuous hope till death, what would that avail when God required their souls? The more comfort we find in our religion, the more closely we shall cleave to it. Those who have no delight in God, are easily drawn away by the pleasures, and easily overcome by the crosses of this life. (Job 27:11-23)

Verses 11–23

Job's friends, on the same subject, spoke of the misery of wicked men before death as proportioned to their crimes; Job considered that if it were not so, still the consequences of their death would be dreadful. Job undertook to set this matter in a true light. Death to a godly man, is like a fair gale of wind to convey him to the heavenly country; but, to a wicked man, it is like a storm, that hurries him away to destruction. While he lived, he had the benefit of sparing mercy; but now the day of God's patience is over, and he will pour out upon him his wrath. When God casts down a man, there is no flying from, nor bearing up under his anger. Those who will not now flee to the arms of Divine grace, which are stretched out to receive them, will not be able to flee from the arms of Divine wrath, which will shortly be stretched out to destroy them. And what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and thus lose his own soul?

Verses 1–11

Job maintained that the dispensations of Providence were regulated by the highest wisdom. To confirm this, he showed of what a great deal of knowledge and wealth men may make themselves masters. The caverns of the earth may be discovered, but not the counsels of Heaven. Go to the miners, thou sluggard in religion, consider their ways, and be wise. Let their courage and diligence in seeking the wealth that perishes, shame us out of slothfulness and faint-heartedness in labouring for the true riches. How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! How much easier, and safer! Yet gold is sought for, but grace neglected. Will the hopes of precious things out of the earth, so men call them, though really they are paltry and perishing, be such a spur to industry, and shall not the certain prospect of truly precious things in heaven be much more so?

Verses 12–19

Job here speaks of wisdom and understanding, the knowing and enjoying of God and ourselves. Its worth is infinitely more than all the riches in this world. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost which cannot be bought with money. Let that which is most precious in God's account, be so in ours. Job asks after it as one that truly desired to find it, and despaired of finding it any where but in God; any way but by Divine revelation. (Job 28:20-28)

Verses 20–28

There is a two-fold wisdom; one hid in God, which is secret, and belongs not to us; the other made known by him, and revealed to man. One day's events, and one man's affairs, have such reference to, and so hang one upon another, that He only, to whom all is open, and who sees the whole at one view, can rightly judge of every part. But the knowledge of God's revealed will is within our reach, and will do us good. Let man look upon this as his wisdom, To fear the Lord, and to depart from evil. Let him learn that, and he is learned enough. Where is this wisdom to be found? The treasures of it are hid in Christ, revealed by the word, received by faith, through the Holy Ghost. It will not feed pride or vanity, or amuse our vain curiosity. It teaches and encourages sinners to fear the Lord, and to depart from evil, in the exercise of repentance and faith, without desiring to solve all difficulties about the events of this life.

Verses 1–6

Job proceeds to contrast his former prosperity with his present misery, through God's withdrawing from him. A gracious soul delights in God's smiles, not in the smiles of this world. Four things were then very pleasant to holy Job. 1. The confidence he had in the Divine protection. 2. The enjoyment he had of the Divine favour. 3. The communion he had with the Divine word. 4. The assurance he had of the Divine presence. God's presence with a man in his house, though it be but a cottage, makes it a castle and a palace. Then also he had comfort in his family. Riches and flourishing families, like a candle, may be soon extinguished. But when the mind is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, when a man walks in the light of God's countenance, every outward comfort is doubled, every trouble is diminished, and he may pass cheerfully by this light through life and through death. Yet the sensible comfort of this state is often withdrawn for a season; and commonly this arises from sinful neglect, and grieving the Holy Spirit: sometimes it may be a trial of a man's faith and grace. But it is needful to examine ourselves, to seek for the cause of such a change by fervent prayer, and to increase our watchfulness.

Verses 7–17

All sorts of people paid respect to Job, not only for the dignity of his rank, but for his personal merit, his prudence, integrity, and good management. Happy the men who are blessed with such gifts as these! They have great opportunities of honouring God and doing good, but have great need to watch against pride. Happy the people who are blessed with such men! it is a token for good to them. Here we see what Job valued himself by, in the day of his prosperity. It was by his usefulness. He valued himself by the check he gave to the violence of proud and evil men. Good magistrates must thus be a restraint to evil-doers, and protect the innocent; in order to this, they should arm themselves with zeal and resolution. Such men are public blessings, and resemble Him who rescues poor sinners from Satan. How many who were ready to perish, now are blessing Him! But who can show forth His praises? May we trust in His mercy, and seek to imitate His truth, justice, and love.

Verses 18–25

Being thus honoured and useful, Job had hoped to die in peace and honour, in a good old age. If such an expectation arise from lively faith in the providence and promise of God, it is well; but if from conceit of our own wisdom, and dependence on changeable, earthly things, it is ill grounded, and turns to sin. Every one that has the spirit of wisdom, has not the spirit of government; but Job had both. Yet he had the tenderness of a comforter. This he thought upon with pleasure, when he was himself a mourner. Our Lord Jesus is a King who hates iniquity, and upon whom the blessing of a world ready to perish comes. To Him let us give ear.

Verses 1–14

Job contrasts his present condition with his former honour and authority. What little cause have men to be ambitious or proud of that which may be so easily lost, and what little confidence is to be put in it! We should not be cast down if we are despised, reviled, and hated by wicked men. We should look to Jesus, who endured the contradiction of sinners.

Verses 15–31

Job complains a great deal. Harbouring hard thoughts of God was the sin which did, at this time, most easily beset Job. When inward temptations join with outward calamities, the soul is hurried as in a tempest, and is filled with confusion. But woe be to those who really have God for an enemy! Compared with the awful state of ungodly men, what are all outward, or even inward temporal afflictions? There is something with which Job comforts himself, yet it is but a little. He foresees that death will be the end of all his troubles. God's wrath might bring him to death; but his soul would be safe and happy in the world of spirits. If none pity us, yet our God, who corrects, pities us, even as a father pitieth his own children. And let us look more to the things of eternity: then the believer will cease from mourning, and joyfully praise redeeming love.

Verses 1–8

Job did not speak the things here recorded by way of boasting, but in answer to the charge of hypocrisy. He understood the spiritual nature of God's commandments, as reaching to the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is best to let our actions speak for us; but in some cases we owe it to ourselves and to the cause of God, solemnly to protest our innocence of the crimes of which we are falsely accused. The lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world, are two fatal rocks on which multitudes split; against these Job protests he was always careful to stand upon his guard. And God takes more exact notice of us than we do of ourselves; let us therefore walk circumspectly. He carefully avoided all sinful means of getting wealth. He dreaded all forbidden profit as much as all forbidden pleasure. What we have in the world may be used with comfort, or lost with comfort, if honestly gotten. Without strict honestly and faithfulness in all our dealings, we can have no good evidence of true godliness. Yet how many professors are unable to abide this touchstone!

Verses 9–15

All the defilements of the life come from a deceived heart. Lust is a fire in the soul: those that indulge it, are said to burn. It consumes all that is good there, and lays the conscience waste. It kindles the fire of God's wrath, which, if not quenched by the blood of Christ, will consume even to eternal destruction. It consumes the body; it consumes the substance. Burning lusts bring burning judgments. Job had a numerous household, and he managed it well. He considered that he had a Master in heaven; and as we are undone if God should be severe with us, we ought to be mild and gentle towards all with whom we have to do.

Verses 16–23

Job's conscience gave testimony concerning his just and charitable behaviour toward the poor. He is most large upon this head, because in this matter he was particularly accused. He was tender of all, and hurtful to none. Notice the principles by which Job was restrained from being uncharitable and unmerciful. He stood in awe of the Lord, as certainly against him, if he should wrong the poor. Regard to worldly interests may restrain a man from actual crimes; but the grace of God alone can make him hate, dread, and shun sinful thoughts and desires.

Verses 24–32

Job protests, 1. That he never set his heart upon the wealth of this world. How few prosperous professors can appeal to the Lord, that they have not rejoiced because their gains were great! Through the determination to be rich, numbers ruin their souls, or pierce themselves with many sorrows. 2. He never was guilty of idolatry. The source of idolatry is in the heart, and it corrupts men, and provokes God to send judgments upon a nation. 3. He neither desired nor delighted in the hurt of the worst enemy he had. If others bear malice to us, that will not justify us in bearing malice to them. 4. He had never been unkind to strangers. Hospitality is a Christian duty, 1Pe 4:9.

Verses 33–40

Job clears himself from the charge of hypocrisy. We are loth to confess our faults, willing to excuse them, and to lay the blame upon others. But he that thus covers his sins, shall not prosper, Pr 28:13. He speaks of his courage in what is good, as an evidence of his sincerity in it. When men get estates unjustly, they are justly deprived of comfort from them; it was sown wheat, but shall come up thistles. What men do not come honestly by, will never do them any good. The words of Job are ended. They end with a bold assertion, that, with respect to accusation against his moral and religious character as the cause for his sufferings, he could appeal to God. But, however confident Job was, we shall see he was mistaken, chap. 40:4, 5; 1Jo 1:8. Let us all judge ourselves; wherein we are guilty, let us seek forgiveness in that blood which cleanseth from all sin; and may the Lord have mercy upon us, and write his laws in our hearts!