New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Job 19:1 Then Job answered- This speech sees Job bitterly lament his treatment by God and the friends. Indeed everything was so unfair. But out of all this deep self pity, he comes to the classic expression of his faith in resurrection and judgment in :25-27. Taking any of his statements alone would lead to the impression that he was almost narcissistic in his self-pity, but it is out of this down cycle that is born the expression of faith and yet deeper understanding of :25-27.

Job 19:2 How long will you torment me, and crush me with words?-
If nothing else we see here the power of words. The friends had come to comfort, but ended up crushing him. Eliphaz had earlier concluded that Job was "crushed" (s.w.) because of his sins (Job 5:4) and so he thought he could crush Job with words as well. Even if Job had indeed been condemned, his friends ought still to have sought to save him. Through this experience he came to bear the "torment" which the exiles would during the Babylonian invasion and captivity (s.w. Is. 51:23; Lam. 1:4).

Job 19:3 You have reproached me ten times. You aren’t ashamed that you attack me-
There have not yet been ten speeches by the friends. So "ten times" is being used to mean 'totally' or 'many times', as in Gen. 31:41; Num. 14:22; Neh. 4:12; Dan. 1:20. We must understand that Semitic languages don't use numbers always in the strictly literal sense which European languages tend to. The friends were so sure that Job was condemned that they lost all sense of shame and personal guilt in how they treated him.

Job 19:4 If it is true that I have erred, my error remains with myself-
The aggression of the friends was because they thought they had the right to join in the apparent Divine condemnation of him; rather than leaving the matter between God and Job. This mentality is seen all around us today. We note however that Job is still qualifying his sinfulness ["if it is true..."]; and his final repentance reflects a total shedding of this kind of careful self qualification.

Job 19:5 If indeed you will magnify yourselves against me-
The Messianic Psalms record David and the Lord Jesus feeling that their enemies had magnified themselves against them (Ps. 35:26; 38:16; 41:9; 55:12). Ps. 41:9 applies the term to Judas, who was typified by the friends as the Lord Jesus was by Job.

And plead against me my reproach- Pleading is legal language. Job had done nothing wrong to the friends, but he feels they had come into court to quote his "reproach" as evidence he had sinned, and therefore were demanding his judgment. When they should have left any possible sin as a matter between Job and God (:4).

Job 19:6 know now that God has subverted me, and has surrounded me with His net-
"Subverted" translates a Hebrew word which clearly means to be perverse or wicked with another person. Elihu sternly rebukes Job for this statement, saying that God will not "pervert judgment" (Job 34:12). Again we marvel at the grace of how God later says that Job has spoken what was right about Him (Job 42:7). Whilst that statement may refer simply to Job's expression of total repentance, we would still expect it to be qualified by some clause to the effect that "although earlier Job accused me of many awful things". There is no such clause in Job 42:7. The absence of it, bearing in mind Job's wrong statements about God which Elihu has reminded us of, is surely noticeable and intended to be noticed. We are left marvelling at the extent of grace and imputed righteousness, through faith by grace.

Job 19:7 Behold, I cry out because of injustice, but I am not heard. I cry for help, but there is no justice-
Job now turns to lament how he feels God has treated him, having complained of how the friends have unjustly treated him. Job feels he has 'cried out' to God for justice and not been heard (Job 19:7; 30:20); and that there is nothing wrong with crying out to God in distress, it is a perfectly natural reaction (Job 24:12). One comment upon this is that the young ravens cry out to God for food and yet are not always heard (Job 38:41 s.w.). But God in the wider picture sustains all of creation by grace. Job did well to cry out to God even if there was no answer, because the hypocrites do not 'cry out' to God when they are facing judgment (Job 36:13 s.w.). Job feels hurt that God has not responded to his 'crying out' because he says that when the needy cried out to him, he had heard (Job 29:12 s.w.). But here we see his works based approach; he thought that his response to those who cried out to him meant that therefore God must respond to his crying out. And God is not so primitive. His apparent silence is because His response is not predicated upon human works and charity. It is by grace alone, as is taught in His final appearance to Job. The exiles likewise were to finally see the response to their crying out to God in the restoration (Is. 58:9), just as their representative Jonah cried out to God from the belly of sheol amidst the sea of nations, and was heard (s.w. Jonah 2:2).

Job 19:8 He has walled up my way so that I can’t pass, and has set darkness in my paths- J
ob is feeling confined, imprisoned, blocked in. But this was what happened to Judah in their judgment (Hos. 2:6); Job although righteous was the representative of Judah. See on Job 10:11,12.

Num. 22:22 describes how an Angel of God stood in a narrow, walled path before Balaam, so that his donkey fell down beneath him. That Angel is described as a "satan", an adversary, to Balaam. Job comments how the sufferings which the 'Satan' brought upon him were God 'walling up my way that I cannot pass' (Job 19:8). The connection is clear- and surely indicates that Job's satan was a satan-Angel, acting as an adversary to Job just as such an Angel did to Balaam. See on Job 1:6. Job and Balaam have certain similarities- both were prophets (in Job's case see Job 4:4; 23:12; 29:4 cp. 15:8; Amos 3:7; James 5:10,11); both had genuine difficulty in understanding God's ways, but they to varying degrees consciously rebelled against what they did understand; both thus became angry with God (in the Angel), and were reproved by God through being brought to consider the Angel-controlled natural creation. 


Job 19:9 He has stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head-
"Stripped me" is s.w. "fell upon" in describing how the troops of Job's enemies fell upon his children and wealth (Job 1:17). It was God who did this, Job perceives; they were "His troops" (:12). The same word is used of the stripping of God's people of their glory (Ez. 16:39; 23:26; Mic. 3:3), which only happened because they themselves did not strip themselves of their clothing in repentance (s.w. Is. 32:11;  Ez. 26:16). The stripping of Job, which also recalls the stripping of the priest Aaron of his clothes and "crown" [mitre] when his priesthood ended (Num. 20:26,28), was therefore to elicit repentance in him. And this is what was finally achieved at the end of the book. See on Job 40:10.

Job 19:10 He has broken me down on every side, and I am gone. My hope He has plucked up like a tree-
Originally, Job believed that his "hope" was predicated upon his upright ways (Job 4:6). But Job through his sufferings comes to feel he now has no "hope" (Job 7:6; 14:19; 17:15; 19:10). The friends suggest that Job had only the "hope" of the hypocrite, and this "hope" would perish (Job 4:6; 8:13; 27:8). Job had integrity, and on that basis he thought he had "hope". He suffered, and he lost that "hope", because he assumed that his sufferings meant that he was not in fact righteous. And yet he often reflects that he is righteous and is suffering unjustly. And so he is led to the realization that the "hope" of the righteous is by God's grace and not because of the "integrity of [Job's] ways". Judah in captivity likewise lost their "hope" (Ez. 19:5; 37:11). But the message of the restoration prophets was that "there is hope in your end" (Jer. 31:17); they were prisoners or exiles in "hope" (Zech. 9:12). And we may get the possible whiff of restoration of hope in Job; for now he compares himself to a tree plucked up, whereas in Job 14:7-10 he has said that a tree has hope of sprouting again, but he has no hope at all. Now, he at least sees himself as the tree. These were baby steps towards faith in restoration.

Job 19:11 He has also kindled His wrath against me. He counts me among His adversaries-
Job feels God's wrath kindled against him (Job 19:11). The innocent Job  experienced the judgments of God's people, against whom God's wrath was kindled (Dt. 11:17; 2 Kings 23:26). Significantly, we find Elihu's wrath kindled against both Job and the friends (Job 32:2,3), but the wrath of God was kindled only against the friends (Job 42:7). Elihu is therefore not fully reflecting God's position about Job. I have repeatedly demonstrated that the innocent Job was suffering the judgment for the sins of God's people. In the end, this came to full term in the salvation of the friends on account of Job's intercession. God's wrath was not personally against Job, it was against the friends. But Job suffered God's wrath against him, because he was to be the saviour of the friends by offering sacrifice for them and praying for them. This looks forward to the work of the Lord Jesus, the suffering servant based upon Job; experiencing the judgment for our sins, and through the representative nature of His sacrifice, being able to save us.


Job 19:12 His troops come on together, build a siege ramp against me, and encamp around my tent-
See on :9. Job represents both the Lord Jesus Christ and Israel. He was representative of both. This is nicely shown by how the language of 19:12-14 is reminiscent of the descriptions of the Roman armies (Christ's armies- Mt. 22:7) surrounding Jerusalem in AD70. There then follows a description of Job's sufferings which has clear links with that of Christ's crucifixion in Ps. 69. "He hath put my brethren far from me (cp. Ps. 69:8), and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me". Note how the last phrase links with Christ's description  of  Judas as "my own familiar friend", implying there may be a connection between the one-time friends of Job, and Judas. Both epitomized the Jewish system, and both were at one stage trusted by Job/Jesus. Other descriptions of Job's sufferings in the language of Ps. 69 include Job 30:9 "Now am I their song, yea, I am their byword" (cp. Ps. 69:12); Job 22:11 "abundance of waters cover thee" (cp. Ps. 69:1,2); Job 2:11 the friends came "to mourn with him and to comfort him", although Job said he turned to them for comfort in vain (16:2). The Hebrew in Job 2:11 is identical to that in Ps. 69:20, describing Christ looking in vain for comforters. 

Job 19:13 He has put my brothers far from me. My acquaintances are wholly estranged from me-
The brothers of Job turned against him (:17) because they all considered him "smitten of God" just as the suffering servant was considered (Is. 53:4); the Lord Jesus likewise had this experience, being initially rejected by his brothers (Jn. 7:5).

Job 19:14 My relatives have gone away. My familiar friends have forgotten me-
This total rejection by everyone was indeed lamentable, but it led to Job turning the more intensely toward God, despite the apparent distance of God from him. And this apparently hopeless situation of being rejected by all his family in Job 19:13-16 was reversed at the end when all his relatives again came to him (Job 42:11). The way they give him a piece of money and an earing appears to be some kind of gratitude for his salvation of them. They thus recognized their guilt and expressed deep gratitude that although they had rejected him, his sufferings and their rejection of him had led to their salvation. For we can deduce from the gift of a piece of money that they feel they have sinned, and he has saved them. So again, his restoration was the restoration of others, the friends and his family who had rejected him. He had born the sufferings for their sins, and thus becomes a type of the Lord Jesus, who suffered the judgments for sin in order to save those who had rejected and abused him.  

Job 19:15 Those who dwell in my house, and my maids, count me for a stranger. I am an alien in their sight-
This is quoted in the Messianic Ps. 69:18 concerning the Lord's sufferings on the cross.

Job 19:16 I call to my servant, and he gives me no answer. I beg him with my mouth-
The begging was for bread; see on Job 15:23. This is how desperately low Job became. "Beg" is the word for 'grace'; see on :21.

Job 19:17 My breath is offensive to my wife. I am loathsome to the children of my own mother-
"Loathsome" is not the best translation, the Hebrew word is usually translated to be gracious to. Perhaps the idea is that he asked his brothers for grace, but wasn't afforded it. The usage of the word suggests Job for the first time is thinking about grace, undeserved favour; and this is what he is led to realize at the end when God appears. But this was one of the baby steps towards that. See on :21.

Job 19:18 Even young children despise me. If I arise, they speak against me-
Job was finally to be the saving hero of his society. Likewise the exiles who had been despised were to be praised by all in the restored Kingdom (Is. 41:9 s.w.). All because Job was the suffering servant, despised and rejected of all and yet finally saviour of those who despised him, just as the Lord Jesus to a far greater extent (Is. 53:3).

Job 19:19 All my familiar friends abhor me. They whom I loved have turned against me-
This abhorrence of Job by the friends is related to the way they considered mankind to be "abominable and corrupt" (Job 15:16). "Abhor" is the same word as "abominable". The simple truth is as Job put it- God has a tender desire to man, the work of His hands (Job 14:15). And whatever we posit about human nature, we say about the Lord Jesus. He fully shared that nature and yet was holy, harmless and undefiled (Heb. 7:26). Man by nature, just standing there as flesh and blood before God, is not "abominable" to Him of himself. It is sin which is the problem; and sin is not inevitable. We must bear full responsibility for our sins and cannot just pass them off as an inevitable function of our humanity. The wrong view of human nature held by the friends affected their view of Job and people in practice. The lower our view of human nature, the more likely we are to despise human beings rather than value them and speak well of them because they are made in the image of God (James 3:9).

It must be noted that the satan never occurs again, under that name. The real adversary of Job was his "friends"; and in God's final judgment, it is they who are condemned, not 'satan'. It is therefore reasonable to see a connection between the satan and the 'friends' of Job; they too walked to and fro in the earth in order to come to him, as it seems satan did at the beginning. And we pause here for another lesson. The great satan / adversary of Job turned out to be those he thought were his friends in the ecclesia. And so it has been, time and again, in our experience: our sorest trials often come from the words of our brethren. Without underestimating the physical affliction of Job, his real adversary was his brethren. Rather than bemoaning his physical affliction, he commented how his friends had become his satans (Job 19:19) And so with the Lord Jesus, whom Job so accurately typified. Again, without minimizing the material agony of His flesh, the essential piercing was from His rejection at the hands of those He died for. For other reasons to connect the satan with the friends, see on Job 1:6.

Job 19:20 My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh. I have escaped by the skin of my teeth-
Job was just about hanging on to life, and so he had the hope of restoration. This was the position of the exiles. From their living death they would be given new skin and flesh in revival (Ez. 37:6,8) after the pattern of Job- if they wished to follow his example of repentance.

Job 19:21 Have pity on me, have pity on me, you my friends-
The word for "grace" is used four times in quick succession (:16,17 and twice in :21). Job is now appealing for grace, even if he is deemed guilty. Job for the first time is thinking about grace, undeserved favour; and this is what he is led to realize at the end when God appears.

For the hand of God has touched me- "Touch" is the word used by the satan in Job 1:11, showing again that the hand of the Satan was the hand of God, and Job understood this. The friends insist that "the destroyer" [by which they surely meant an early equivalent to 'the devil' of popular belief today] had touched Job- whereas Job insists that it is God who had destroyed him (Job 15:21 cp. 19:10; 13:21). In some ways the book of Job is a deconstruction of the popular Persian and Canaanite myths about a 'satan' figure. Job, both in the story of his sufferings and his specific words, seeks to demonstrate that the essential issues in life is being "just with God", and not whether or not we are touched by the hand of an evil being; for the hand of God which touched Job (Job 19:21) is the hand of 'satan' into whom God delivered Job temporarily (Job 1:12). Job says that the attitude of the friends is wrong- they should be looking into themselves, rather than fantasizing about the action of some unseen evil being they imagined: "Ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?... know that there is a [personal] judgment"(Job 19:28,29).

Job understood God to be in control in Heaven; he rejects the idea of a cosmic conflict going on ‘up there’ which the friends seem to allude to. More specifically, Job speaks of how God’s hand forms and can pierce the “crooked serpent” and smite any monster (Job 26:11–14). It’s as if Job is mocking the idea that God has let him go into the hands of the cosmic monsters which the friends believed in. For Job so often stresses that it is the “hand of God” which has brought His affliction (Job 19:21; 23:2). That Divine hand was far greater than any mythical ‘Satan’ figure. The theme of his speech in Job 28 is that Yahweh alone is to be feared throughout the entire cosmos. Nobody else – such as the ‘Satan’ figures alluded to by the friends – needed to be feared.


Job 19:22 Why do you persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?-
The friends ended up playing God. They presumed to judge Job according to their own limited and inaccurate theology, by assuming that he must have sinned in order to receive such terrible trials from God. Zophar claims to have revealed Job’s guilt, and then says that “the heavens”- an ellipsis for “God”- have revealed Job’s guilt (Job 20:27). Job figured out what was happening when he complained to them: “Why do you hound me as though you were divine?” (Job 19:22 NAB). But something good came out of all this for Job. The way the friends played God set up a kind of dialectic, from which Job came to perceive more powerfully who God really was- and, moreover, how in fact this God would ultimately save him rather than destroy and condemn him, as the friends falsely thought. By ‘dialectic’ I mean that the way the friends presented a false picture and manifestation of God’s judgment led Job to react against it, and thereby come to a true understanding of God’s judgment. Having stated his perception that the friends are indeed playing God (Job 19:22), Job goes straight on to make a solemn and important statement. The solemnity of it is witnessed by his request that what he was now going to say would be inscribed in rock with the point of a diamond as a permanent record (Job 19:24). And that solemn statement was that he knew that God would be his vindicator at the last day, that he would “see God”, that he would have a bodily resurrection, and that at that time it would be the friends who would be condemned (Job 19:25-29). This supreme statement of faith, hope and understanding was elicited from Job because of the rejection he suffered from his friends, and the way they so inaccurately and wrongly played God in wrongly condemning him on God’s behalf. Job thus came to long for the judgment seat. There are few believers who have reached that level of intimacy with God- but Job did, thanks to the way his friends so cruelly turned against him. And this is a major lesson we can take from being the victim of slander, misunderstanding and misjudgment by our own brethren.

Job 19:23 Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!-
The existence of the book of Job is proof enough that his wish was granted. His request, however, shows baby steps towards realizing that his sufferings can be used for a greater and wider purpose. He was not just suffering for himself. And finally his salvation of his friends and family [possibly leading to the resurrection of his slain children] was realized by him to be the outcome of this sufferings. He, the innocent, had born their sins in his own body, just as the Lord did. Earlier he had offered sacrifice for his children, but this was not enough; a representative sufferer was needed. For now, he is only just beginning to move towards this realization.

Job 19:24 That with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!-
An "iron pen" is only found again in Jer. 17:1, where Judah's sin is written with an iron pen. The desire for suffering to be remembered was strong amongst the exiles as it was with Job.

Job 19:25 But as for me-
Given the context, the idea may be that whether or not his suffering achieves anything for others, he is confident of his own salvation at the end.

I know that my Redeemer lives- God was the redeemer of His people from slavery and captivity (Ex. 6:6; 15:13). Job felt his sufferings had placed him in some kind of slavery or captivity, from which he needed redemption or 'buying out'. And he believed that God was that redeemer. In these feelings, he becomes the exact representative of the suffering exiles in slavery and captivity. A redeemer from slavery was typically a close relative (Lev. 25:48; s.w. "kinsman" in Ruth 4:8), and this is how Job came to perceive the God whom he felt was so apparently silent and distant. He is a parade example of not being ultimately fazed by the apparent silence of God. The exiles were intended to rejoice that they had a redeemer, again, after the pattern of Job (Is. 41:14; 43:1,14; 44:6,22,23 etc.); and their redemption from Babylon was ultimately to be from death itself (Hos. 13:14).

In the end- AV "latter day" is wrong. There is no Hebrew equivalent here for the idea of a "day". The idea is simply, in the future.


He will stand upon the earth- "Earth" here is the word for dust. If the land or physical planet earth was in view, then eretz would probably have been used as it is elsewhere in Job. "Stand" doesn't have to imply resurrection; the idea is of being 'raised up', as the Messiah was to be raised up from amongst His brothers (Dt. 18:15; Jer. 23:5). Putting the ideas of the verse together, Job looked for a Messiah-Saviour figure similar to himself to be raised up in the future, who would be the living God manifested in human dust and ashes like Job's (Job 7:21; 17:16). The Lord Jesus was not God Himself nor did He personally pre-exist, but Job's idea is that this person was to be his representative, of his own dust, but raised up by the living God. His sufferings led him to long for someone exactly like the Lord Jesus- and that longing ultimately came true.

Job 19:26 After my skin is destroyed-
In Job 2:4–6 we have the ‘Satan’ commenting that Job’s flesh and skin need to be harmed; but in Job 19:6,26 we have Job stating his faith that even though God destroys his flesh and skin, yet God shall ultimately save him. See on Job 16:14. Job

Then in my flesh shall I see God- Job understood God to be a personal being, and that in a bodily form he would 'see' Him. Seeing his body was to be destroyed in death, this can only mean he believed in a resurrection of the body. And yet he was to be brought to realize the 'now but not yet' nature of the Kingdom experience; for he came to realize that man can even now "see God" through repentance and acceptance of His great salvation: "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee" (Job 42:5 AV). See on Job 42:5.

Job 19:27 whom I, even I, shall see for myself. My eyes shall see it, and not a stranger’s. My heart is consumed within me-
Whatever value Job's sufferings may have had for others, Job was rejoicing in the intensely personal nature of salvation. He whose eyes and body were fading into death would in a corporeal form see God for himself. "And not a stranger's" connects with what we noted on :23; Job had begun to realize that his sufferings were for others' benefit, even though he didn't know who, they were still strangers to him. His point is that notwithstanding that, he was now beginning to grasp the utter wonder of his personal salvation.

As Job's emphasis on the coming of Messiah and judgment increased, so his concentration on his present sufferings decreased. His heart was consumed within him with desire for that day. 2 Tim. 4 can be regarded as Paul's most mature spiritual statement, written as it was just prior to his death. In 2 Tim. 4:1,8, Paul's mind was clearly on the second coming and the certainty of judgment. He realized, in that time of undoubted maturity, that the common characteristic of all the faithful would be that they all loved the appearing of Christ. But do we love the appearing of Christ as Job did? Is it really all we have in life? Is our conscience, our faith in the grace of God, our real belief in the blood of the cross, so deep that we love the idea of the coming of judgment, that we would fain hasten the day of His coming?  Job's love of the Lord's coming grew very rapidly. Before, he was too caught up with bitterness about his unspiritual fellow 'believers', effectively justifying himself in the eyes of his ecclesia and his world, full of passive complaints about his own sufferings... and so he didn't love that day as he later came to. You and I personally will be in God’s Kingdom, with our arms around each other in the rubble of Jerusalem. We will personally be there. We will see Abraham there (Lk. 13:28); as Job says, with our own eyes we will behold our Lord, and not through anyone else’s eyes (Job 19:27). Our eyes shall behold the King in the beauty which we personally perceive in Him (Is. 33:17).


Job 19:28 If you say, ‘How we will persecute him!’; because the root of the matter is found in me-
Having begun by complaining about the friends and then moved to rejoicing in God's future salvation of him, Job now returns to address the friends. Here and in :29 he appeals for them not to judge him but to repent and prepare for judgment day. This is not at all out of context with the passionate rejoicing in personal salvation he has just expressed in :25-27. The connection is in that he desperately wanted the friends to be there too, to share his wonderful hope. But whilst they continued condemning him, they would unlikely be there; for God has always operated the principle that those who judge / condemn will themselves be condemned (Mt. 7:1), and that is just what they were doing. And Job wants them to stop that and be saved. The situation arose because they considered that Job was totally at fault, and they were intended to persecute him on God's behalf. If they had realized that we are not to judge in the sense of condemning, and left the possible sins between God and Job (see on :4), then they would not have worked themselves into the situation they were now in- thinking it was their duty to persecute Job. This is one of several passages where Job speaks as if the friends were responsible for his physical persecution (cp.:22); as if they had brought the calamity which the opening chapters make satan responsible for. See on Job 1:6, and note how the satan figure morphs into the friends as the book continues.

Job 19:29 be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishments of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment
- I suggest that this expresses a deep concern in Job for the final salvation of the friends; see on :28. He urges them to be aware that the wrath they have could lead to their own punishment by the Divine sword of judgment. And he wants them to realize "there is a judgment". His basic desire to save them is rewarded. God does appear in judgment and condemn the friends, and asks Job to save them by his prayers and sacrifices for them.