Job Chapter Thirty-One
Throughout our study Job has defended his integrity in general terms, now in this chapter he is going to give us more specific examples of his character to clear himself of the unjust charges that his friends have brought against him.
Read Job 31:1-8
v1. “I MADE A COVENANT WITH MINE EYES; WHY THEN SHOULD I THINK UPON A MAID?”
The lusts of the flesh are one of the categories of sin that men have always had to guard against. Job says he’s made a covenant with his eyes, he won’t even look upon sin or look or think upon the attributes of a maid to lust after her. He has not only kept himself from adultery, which was as common in his day as it is in ours, but from lewdness of any nature.
v2. “FOR WHAT PORTION OF GOD is there FROM ABOVE? AND what INHERITANCE OF THE ALMIGHTY FROM ON HIGH?”
What were his reasons for living this kind of life; was it the fear of reproach among men? No, but it is rather the fear of reproach from a living God. What blessing can such impure sinners expect from the pure and holy God, or what favor? What inheritance from the Almighty can they look forward to from on high?
v3. “Is NOT DESTRUCTION TO THE WICKED? AND A STRANGE punishment TO THE WORKERS OF INIQUITY?”
Is not destruction the destiny of the wicked? Doesn’t sin incur divine vengeance?
“FOR THIS YE KNOW, THAT NO WHOREMONGER, NOR UNCLEAN
PERSON, NOR COVETOUS MAN, WHO IS AN IDOLATER, HATH ANY INHERITANCE IN THE
v4. “DOTH NOT HE SEE MY WAYS, AND COUNT ALL MY STEPS?”
Doesn’t God see all my ways and isn’t He even able to count my footsteps? God not only sees our ways in general but takes note or our very steps in these ways, every action, every motion, every word that we utter.
v5-6. “IF I HAVE WALKED WITH VANITY, OR IF MY FOOT HATH HASTED TO DECEIT; LET ME BE WEIGHED IN AN EVEN BALANCE THAT GOD MAY KNOW MINE INTEGRITY.”
Job has been honest with every man, he has not walked in the way of vanity; he has been just in all his dealings. He is so confident in his standing before God that he asks to be weighed in an even balance; a balance that has been perfectly crafted so that it gives precise weight to whatever is placed upon it.
v7-8. “IF MY STEP HATH TURNED OUT OF THE WAY, AND MINE HEART WALKED AFTER MINE EYES, AND IF ANY BLOT HATH CLEAVED TO MINE HANDS; then LET ME SOW, AND LET ANOTHER EAT; YEA, LET MY OFFSPRING BE ROOTED OUT.”
He not only took care to walk a constant course in honesty and fairness but exercised special care not to one step out of the way of righteousness. He’s been so particular about doing this that he declares if I have turned out of the way; if I have the blot or stain of sin on my hands then let others reap where I have sown and let my offspring be rooted out or taken away.
Read Job 31:9-15
v9-10. “IF MINE HEART HAVE BEEN DECEIVED BY A WOMAN, OR if I HAVE LAID WAIT AT MY NEIGHBOUR'S DOOR; then LET MY WIFE GRIND UNTO ANOTHER, AND LET OTHERS BOW DOWN UPON HER.”
Job was so careful to not wrong his marriage bed, or to cause his neighbor’s marriage bed to be wronged that he declares if anyone can find the evidence to convict him then let his wife become a slave or servant to another man or a harlot.
v11-12. “FOR THIS is AN HEINOUS CRIME; YEA, IT is AN INIQUITY to be punished by THE JUDGES. FOR IT is A FIRE that CONSUMETH TO DESTRUCTION, AND WOULD ROOT OUT ALL MINE INCREASE.”
Lust is a fire in the soul; those that indulge in it are said to burn with it. In the patriarchal age, even before God made it punishable by death under the Mosaic Law, adultery was considered a crime that should be brought before a civil magistrate and punished. Job calls it a heinous crime, a word that means to commit adultery is just about as wicked as you can get.
v13. “IF I DID DESPISE THE CAUSE OF MY MANSERVANT OR OF MY MAIDSERVANT, WHEN THEY CONTENDED WITH ME;”
Contrary to the common practice at that time Job treated his servants well. If they brought a wrong before him, he heard their cause and judged them righteously; if they complained of any hardship brought on them by Job or any of Job’s managers or overseers then he listened patiently and corrected any wrong that had been done.
v14-15. “WHAT THEN SHALL I DO WHEN GOD RISETH UP? AND WHEN HE VISITETH, WHAT SHALL I ANSWER HIM? DID NOT HE THAT MADE ME IN THE WOMB MAKE HIM? AND DID NOT ONE FASHION US IN THE WOMB?”
Job says, if I did treat my servants badly then how could I expect God to treat me? Didn’t God make him just like he made me? Weren’t we all born alike, aren’t we all men born physically as children of God? This kind of thinking was rare in the days in which Job is written but the principle of Job’s thinking is found throughout the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.
Read Job 31:16-23
v16. “IF I HAVE WITHHELD THE POOR FROM their DESIRE, OR HAVE CAUSED THE EYES OF THE WIDOW TO FAIL;”
Job stood ready always to address the desires and needs of the poor. If he could tell by the look that a widow gave him that she needed assistance that she could not beg for or was afraid to ask for he had the compassion to provide to her needs without even a request.
v17. “OR HAVE EATEN MY MORSEL MYSELF ALONE, AND THE FATHERLESS HATH NOT EATEN THEREOF;”
Job had not dined at the rich man’s table without sharing his substance with those who had need. The fatherless were welcome at his table and were fed and cared for as though they were his very own.
v18. “(FOR FROM MY YOUTH HE WAS BROUGHT UP WITH ME, AS with A FATHER, AND I HAVE GUIDED HER FROM MY MOTHER’S WOMB;)”
nature was to be kind and compassionate; from his youth up he cared for the
fatherless as a father and guided the widow through his counsel because she had
lost her guide, her husband. He had
managed their affairs as a righteous man would, without any thought for reward.
v19-22. “IF I HAVE SEEN ANY PERISH FOR WANT OF CLOTHING, OR ANY POOR WITHOUT COVERING; IF HIS LOINS HAVE NOT BLESSED ME, AND if HE WERE not WARMED WITH THE FLEECE OF MY SHEEP; IF I HAVE LIFTED UP MY HAND AGAINST THE FATHERLESS, WHEN I SAW MY HELP IN THE GATE: then LET MINE ARM FALL FROM MY SHOULDER BLADE, AND MINE ARM BE BROKEN FROM THE BONE.”
Job continues that if he saw any in need of clothing; or any poor without covering and had not covered them with the fleece of his own sheep; or if he had raised his hand against any who were fatherless when he saw that they needed help then let his arms drop off. Let God provide a punishment for me that would destroy my usefulness, make me unable to provide for myself.
v23. “FOR DESTRUCTION from GOD was A TERROR TO ME, AND BY REASON OF HIS HIGHNESS I COULD NOT ENDURE.”
Job declares that he respected the needs of the fatherless and widows because he knew the terror of God. Those who oppress the poor, and pervert judgment and justice seem to forget that there is a Judge who is higher who will judge the world someday and provide to wrongdoers the just reward for their work. This is the reason he could endure and maintain this level of principle in his daily living.
Read Job 31:24-32
v24-28. “IF I HAVE MADE GOLD MY HOPE, OR HAVE SAID TO THE FINE GOLD, thou art MY CONFIDENCE; IF I REJOICED BECAUSE MY WEALTH was GREAT, AND BECAUSE MINE HAND HAD GOTTEN MUCH; IF I BEHELD THE SUN WHEN IT SHINED, OR THE MOON WALKING in BRIGHTNESS; AND MY HEART HATH BEEN SECRETLY ENTICED, OR MY MOUTH HATH KISSED MY HAND: THIS ALSO were AN INIQUITY to be punished by THE JUDGE: FOR I SHOULD HAVE DENIED THE GOD that is ABOVE.”
Job says he never set his hope on the riches of this world. He had gold, he had fine gold but he never made that gold his hope; he never placed the things of this world above God and his precepts. He understood the principle that Jesus taught:
Mark 10:24 “AND THE DISCIPLES WERE
ASTONISHED AT HIS WORDS. BUT JESUS ANSWERETH AGAIN, AND SAITH UNTO THEM, CHILDREN, HOW HARD IS IT FOR THEM THAT TRUST
IN RICHES TO ENTER INTO THE
Job took no pride in his wealth: he took no pleasure in it in comparison to the spiritual things which were the delight to his soul. He never gave worship or glory to the creation of God but rather to God himself. He was never guilty of idolatry or worshipped his gold, he never worshipped the sun which shined or the moon which glowed in the night as many in his day did. He considered such the same as adultery, and his hatred of that sin we have already discussed.
v29. “IF I REJOICED AT THE DESTRUCTION OF HIM THAT HATED ME, OR LIFTED UP MYSELF WHEN EVIL FOUND HIM:”
Job never even rejoiced if one who hated him was punished or destroyed. He did not seek revenge against any man. He not only did not return the injuries that other men had done unto him he didn’t even find joy if time and circumstance repaid them for their wrongs.
v30. “NEITHER HAVE I SUFFERED MY MOUTH TO SIN BY WISHING A CURSE TO HIS SOUL.”
He not only didn’t take action against those who wronged he never even wished that any wrong should befall them.
v31. “IF THE MEN OF MY TABERNACLE SAID NOT, OH THAT WE HAD OF HIS FLESH! WE CANNOT BE SATISFIED.”
Job even controlled the men of his own household. If they, seeing their master wronged, were of a mind to dispense just punishment Job restrained them, would not allow them to seek revenge either.
v32. “THE STRANGER DID NOT LODGE IN THE STREET: but I OPENED MY DOORS TO THE TRAVELLER.”
No stranger ever slept in the street when Job had lodging available in his house. Job understood the need to be hospitable, even to those who were strangers or travelers. Again we find that he lived by the principles taught by Jesus and his Apostles.
Hebrews 13:2 “BE NOT FORGETFUL TO ENTERTAIN STRANGERS: FOR THEREBY SOME HAVE ENTERTAINED ANGELS UNAWARES.”
I Peter 4:9 “USE HOSPITALITY ONE TO ANOTHER WITHOUT GRUDGING.”
Read Job 31:33-40
v33. “IF I COVERED MY TRANSGRESSIONS AS ADAM, BY HIDING MINE INIQUITY IN MY BOSOM:”
One of the things that Job’s friends had accused him of was covering a life of iniquity with a front of righteousness, of being a hypocrite. Here Job tells them that he never covered up his sin like Adam tried to do.
v34. “DID I FEAR A GREAT MULTITUDE, OR DID THE CONTEMPT OF FAMILIES TERRIFY ME, THAT I KEPT SILENCE, and WENT NOT OUT OF THE DOOR?”
Job says he never did anything that would cause men to rise up against him, that he should fear a multitude or the families of others because of wrong or that would keep him from going out his door.
v35-37. “OH THAT ONE WOULD HEAR ME! BEHOLD, MY DESIRE is, that THE ALMIGHTY WOULD ANSWER ME, AND that MINE ADVERSARY HAD WRITTEN A BOOK. SURELY I WOULD TAKE IT UPON MY SHOULDER, and BIND IT AS A CROWN TO ME. I WOULD DECLARE UNTO HIM THE NUMBER OF MY STEPS; AS A PRINCE WOULD I GO NEAR UNTO HIM."
Job now appeals to the judgment seat of God. Oh, but that God would hear me! Oh, but that the Almighty would answer me! Job would delight in seeing the book in which his crimes he’s being punished for were recorded. If it showed things that he was guilty of that he did not realize; then he would allow it to be seen and read of all men. He would wear it as a crown or carry it as a burden on his back that men might know. He’s ready to defend himself against anyone or even against God if he would but be given that opportunity.
v38-40. “IF MY LAND CRY AGAINST ME, OR THAT THE FURROWS LIKEWISE THEREOF COMPLAIN; IF I HAVE EATEN THE FRUITS THEREOF WITHOUT MONEY, OR HAVE CAUSED THE OWNERS THEREOF TO LOSE THEIR LIFE: LET THISTLES GROW INSTEAD OF WHEAT, AND COCKLE INSTEAD OF BARLEY. THE WORDS OF JOB ARE ENDED."
Job ends his discourse with the challenge to his friends, to God, to anyone who was willing to listen. If I gained my wealth unjustly then let the very furrows of the plow cry out against me! If I’ve eaten fruit without labor, taken anything that I had not earned or done anything that would have caused the owners of wealth to lose their lives so that I could have their wealth then let the thistles grow in my wheat fields and cockle burrs grown when I plant barley. Let God bring whatever punishment he chooses to bring against me. And there Job ends his discourse.