Job Chapter Sixteen
This chapter begins Job’s reply to the second verbal broadside of Eliphaz that makes up chapter 15. It is but the second part of the same list of woes of lamentation with which he had presented before, and is set to the same tune. He upbraids his friends with their unkind abuse of him; he represents his own case as being totally deplorable upon all accounts. But, as throughout the entire book, he still holds fast his integrity and appeals to God’s righteous judgment from the unrighteous censures of his friends.
Read Job 16:1-5
v1-2. “THEN JOB ANSWERED AND SAID, I HAVE HEARD MANY SUCH THINGS: MISERABLE COMFORTERS are YE ALL.”
Both Job and his friends take the same approach that most people who find themselves in disputes take. One undervalues or negates the others common sense, wisdom, knowledge and ability and then the other response the same way. One man has said, quite truthfully; the longer the saw of contention is drawn the hotter it gets. Job says you have told me nothing but what I knew before, nothing but what you yourselves have said before. In addition you didn’t offer anything that would help with my afflictions, or bring me comfort but in fact added to my burden and made it harder to bear. Miserable comforters you are!
v3. “SHALL VAIN WORDS HAVE AN END? OR WHAT EMBOLDENETH THEE THAT THOU ANSWEREST?”
These vain words should never have been begun, are they to have no end? If there were one of the lessons that mankind could learn here that would help him probably as much as any other; it would be to be wise enough to know when they have said enough; and when it is time to shut up. Job says, who are you to charge me with these crimes which you cannot prove, to pass judgment on my spiritual state, which you cannot know and to repeat those charges again and again even though they have been answered. But Eliphaz just has done just that, hasn’t he?
v4. “I ALSO COULD SPEAK AS YE do: IF YOUR SOUL WERE IN MY SOUL'S STEAD, I COULD HEAP UP WORDS AGAINST YOU, AND SHAKE MINE HEAD AT YOU.”
It’s easy for some people to trample on someone that is already down and to find fault with those who are in extreme pain and affliction. David felt this kind of affliction:
Psalms 22:7-8 “ALL THEY THAT SEE ME LAUGH ME TO SCORN: THEY SHOOT OUT THE LIP, THEY SHAKE THE HEAD, saying, HE TRUSTED ON THE LORD that HE WOULD DELIVER HIM: LET HIM DELIVER HIM, SEEING HE DELIGHTED IN HIM.”
Jesus felt it on the cross:
Matthew 27:39 “AND THEY THAT PASSED BY REVILED HIM, WAGGING THEIR HEADS,”
But we if we treat our friends this way we would shortly find ourselves in the same condition wouldn’t we? We would find ourselves with, as we say it, the shoe on the other foot. No matter what our brother’s sorrows, troubles or pain, we ought by our sympathy make their troubles our own in loving kindness and compassion for them. We don’t know how soon become plagued with some of them or perhaps even worse problems than they.
v5. “But I WOULD STRENGTHEN YOU WITH MY MOUTH, AND THE MOVING OF MY LIPS SHOULD ASSWAGE your grief.”
Job says I wouldn’t do you the way you’ve done me. I would say all that I could say to help you with your grief, I wouldn’t add to it. But perhaps Job’s heart deceives him, as ours might deceive us in the same situation. Isn’t it always easier to see the reasonableness and importance of something when we have occasion to claim benefit from it than it is when we have occasion to see what we must do because of that same thing? Yes, we should use our patience and our faith to strengthen those that are afflicted, encouraging their confidence in God and uplifting their spirits.
Read Job 16:6-16
v6. “THOUGH I SPEAK, MY GRIEF IS NOT ASSWAGED: AND though I FORBEAR, WHAT AM I EASED?”
Job’s complaint here is as bitter as it is any of the other places where he speaks. This is not uncommon for someone who is severely afflicted is it? He is in a quandary as to whether to vent his anger and pain or smother it and stay quiet. Sometimes the one helps and sometimes the other but Job in his affliction has not found relief in either one.
v7. “BUT NOW HE HATH MADE ME WEARY: THOU HAST MADE DESOLATE ALL MY COMPANY.”
We would say that Job is getting tired of all this; tired of speaking, tired of putting up with these afflictions, tired of the nasty tongues of his friends, tired of life itself. This life has become so very uncomfortable that he is weary of the whole business. The company of his friends has added to his desolation, his pain and suffering. If we ever find ourselves in the situation of Job’s friends, adding to someone’s misery rather than easing it, even when we repent and beg forgiveness, those words will haunt us for the rest of our lives.
v8. “AND THOU HAST FILLED ME WITH WRINKLES, which IS A WITNESS against me: AND MY LEANNESS RISING UP IN ME BEARETH WITNESS TO MY FACE.”
His body has been worn away with disease and pain; he’s skin and bone and his sickness is a witness against him. His face is wrinkled, not from the wearing of time but rather from the sickness he suffers. These are witnesses against him and perhaps support his friend’s charges that he is suffering because that he is a wicked man.
v9. “HE TEARETH me IN HIS WRATH, WHO HATETH ME: HE GNASHETH UPON ME WITH HIS TEETH; MINE ENEMY SHARPENETH HIS EYES UPON ME.”
Job’s words reflect much the same pain that David records so eloquently in one of his psalms:
Psalms 35:12-17 “THEY REWARDED ME EVIL FOR GOOD to THE SPOILING OF MY SOUL. BUT AS FOR ME, WHEN THEY WERE SICK, MY CLOTHING was SACKCLOTH: I HUMBLED MY SOUL WITH FASTING; AND MY PRAYER RETURNED INTO MINE OWN BOSOM. I BEHAVED MYSELF AS THOUGH he had been MY FRIEND or BROTHER: I BOWED DOWN HEAVILY, AS ONE THAT MOURNETH for his MOTHER. BUT IN MINE ADVERSITY THEY REJOICED, AND GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER: yea, THE ABJECTS GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER AGAINST ME, AND I KNEW it NOT; THEY DID TEAR me, AND CEASED NOT: WITH HYPOCRITICAL MOCKERS IN FEASTS, THEY GNASHED UPON ME WITH THEIR TEETH. LORD, HOW LONG WILT THOU LOOK ON?….”
v10. “THEY HAVE GAPED UPON ME WITH THEIR MOUTH; THEY HAVE SMITTEN ME UPON THE CHEEK REPROACHFULLY; THEY HAVE GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER AGAINST ME.”
This sounds almost like a description of the suffering that Christ had to endure doesn’t it? In fact here some scholars would have us see Job as a type of the Christ that was to come and some of the same language is used in the prophecies about Jesus:
Psalms 22:13 “THEY GAPED UPON ME with THEIR MOUTHS, as A RAVENING AND A ROARING LION.”
Isaiah 50:6 “I GAVE MY BACK TO THE SMITERS, AND MY CHEEKS TO THEM THAT PLUCKED OFF THE HAIR: I HID NOT MY FACE FROM SHAME AND SPITTING.”
v11. “GOD HATH DELIVERED ME TO THE UNGODLY, AND TURNED ME OVER INTO THE HANDS OF THE WICKED.”
Job continues to ponder on his trials. He knows that there is no power greater than God and that these things he’s been cursed with must have come with God’s approval. God has allowed him to be afflicted. So he looks beyond God as David did when Shimei cursed him; but at the same time he thinks it strange and thinks it hard that those who are God’s enemies have been allowed to afflict him who is a friend of God. Perhaps we feel this same way when we have to deal with death or tragedy. We ask, why me Lord? I’m your child doing the best that I can.
v12-13. “I WAS AT EASE, BUT HE HATH BROKEN ME ASUNDER: HE HATH ALSO TAKEN me BY MY NECK, AND SHAKEN ME TO PIECES, AND SET ME UP FOR HIS MARK. HIS ARCHERS COMPASS ME ROUND ABOUT, HE CLEAVETH MY REINS ASUNDER, AND DOTH NOT SPARE; HE POURETH OUT MY GALL UPON THE GROUND”
It seems that God not only has allowed his enemies to afflict and abuse him but it seems that God himself has taken a hand in delivering misery to Job.
Job feels that he’s set up as a mark; literally God’s allowing him to be used as a target for all manner of trials.
v14. “HE BREAKETH ME WITH BREACH UPON BREACH, HE RUNNETH UPON ME LIKE A GIANT.”
Job thought that God ran upon him like a giant, whom he could not possibly stand before or confront, as the giant Goliath would have run down any who would face him except David. Even good men, when they are in great and extraordinary troubles, find it hard not to think hard thoughts of God.
v15-16. “I HAVE SEWED SACKCLOTH UPON MY SKIN, AND DEFILED MY HORN IN THE DUST. MY FACE IS FOUL WITH WEEPING, AND ON MY EYELIDS is THE SHADOW OF DEATH;”
Job has been divested of all honor, of all his comforts. He has laid aside all his ornaments and soft clothing. He’s be maligned by his friends, he has dressed himself in sackcloth, think burlap, clothing more becoming to his condition. Laughter and joy are things that are totally unreasonable in his condition. His face is foul from weeping for his sins, for God’s displeasure against him and for the unkindness of his so-called friends.
Read Job 16:17-22
v17. “NOT FOR any INJUSTICE IN MINE HANDS: ALSO MY PRAYER is PURE.”
Job still has something to comfort him doesn’t he? He had the testimony of his conscience; that he had walked uprightly; that he has never allowed himself to commit any gross sin. Oh, he had sins of infirmity, he had times of weakness just as we or any man will have, but after searching his conscience and memory his prayer is pure. He has no great sin that would make God turn his ear away and not hear his pleading. He has no great sin for which this affliction should have been given as punishment.
v18-19. “O EARTH, COVER NOT THOU MY BLOOD, AND LET MY
If I have caused any injustice in my life, earth, don’t cover it up. If I’m guilty of any man’s blood don’t hide it. Job’s integrity is still intact. As God is his witness, no one, not even God himself could dispute that Job was precisely the kind of man that God had told Satan that he was in the beginning of our study of this book. This is Job’s triumph in the midst of his suffering. His conscience is clear and God, sooner or later will balance the scales, will clear up these troubles he’s suffering.
v20-21. “MY FRIENDS SCORN ME: but MINE EYE POURETH OUT tears UNTO GOD. O THAT ONE MIGHT PLEAD FOR A MAN WITH GOD, AS A MAN pleadeth FOR HIS NEIGHBOUR!”
You as my friends scorn me. I can’t get a fair hearing from you. You won’t deal with me fairly. You won’t even give me the benefit of doubt. Our friends can hurt us more than our enemies can’t they? But, Job says, my eyes pour out tears unto God. If he could but plead his case before the Almighty, if he could but enjoy the same freedom before God’s tribunal that we enjoy before the magistrates of this day Job knows that he would be found innocent of any wrongdoing.
v22. “WHEN A FEW YEARS ARE COME, THEN I SHALL GO THE WAY whence I SHALL NOT RETURN.”
Job is so confident of his standing before Almighty God that when a few years go by; when he will get the opportunity to go to that place from which he would never return; he is confident that in that everlasting state that all will be well with him there. We must all go on this journey before too much longer and isn’t it a great joy to know that we’re God’s children? Isn’t it a great comfort to be able through God’s forgiveness to think that we can stand before the judgment seat with integrity and conviction say God your child has come home, give me but a small corner somewhere in heaven to put my pallet? For that’s all I need!