New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Job 27:1 Job again took up his parable and said- In what sense is Job's pouring out of his very personal reflections about his situation "a parable"? I suggest the answer is that we are intended to understand his situation as parabolic or representative of other situations; particularly that with the exiles in Babylon, who would also be led to restoration if they followed Job's path.

Job 27:2 As God lives, who has taken away my right-
Job is specifically criticized by Elihu for saying this (Job 34:5 s.w.). I have suggested that Elihu was not always specifically reflecting God's viewpoints, but instead is a literary device within the drama who serves to summarize the arguments so far delivered. "Right" is literally "judgment". Job has lamented that he sought in vain for God to meet him in judgment. But the very same phrase is used of how by grace God would 'take away Israel's judgments' in no longer condemning them (Zeph. 3:15). It was therefore a good thing that God did not meet Job in judgment; and by grace He was to justify Job and take away his judgment of condemnation.

The Almighty, who has made my soul bitter- The phrase used by Hezekiah, another possible fulfilment of the suffering servant based upon Job (Is. 38:17).


Job 27:3 For the length of my life is still in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils-
This is obviously referring to the record of God's creation of Adam in Gen. 2:7. See on Job 10:9; 9:17. Job may be wrongly suggesting he is merely suffering because he is a son of Adam, whilst personally innocent. Although in Job's case he did need to repent, his situation pointed forward to that of the Lord Jesus, the suffering servant based upon Job who was the second Adam.

Job 27:4 surely my lips shall not speak unrighteousness, neither shall my tongue utter deceit-
Job was bending all his self will to avoid not sinning with his lips, as he is initially commended for doing (Job 2:10). But finally he is taught that for all that steel willed self control, he must lay his hand upon his mouth and realize he has not spoken rightly (Job 40:4). He may have controlled his specific words, but the general thrust of his understanding had been so badly wrong.

Job 27:5 Far be it from me that I should justify you. Until I die I will not put away my integrity from me-
The friends had specifically accused Job of things he had never done (e.g. Job 22:5-9). He would not justify them by saying they had been right after all; he is a great example of not taking false guilt. For in such situations, people often break down and accept guilt for what they never actually did. He held on to God's view of him which had been made clear in the prologue- that he was "perfect", of integrity, and he would not be made to feel as if that was not the case. What he had to learn was that he was after all a sinful human and that high estimation of him had been the result of imputed righteousness by grace. And he had to be taught that in God's final appearance to him.


Job 27:6 I hold fast to my righteousness, and will not let it go- God had stated in Job 2:3 that Job held fast (s.w.) to his integrity. And here Job uses this word about himself. He will not "curse God, and die". Again we have the impression that he had been present at these discussions between the Satan and God; and the view of the Satan was in fact the view now of the friends, who effectively acted as the Satan figure who had influenced their thinking. His argument against the friends, that he did maintain his integrity still, was effectively arguing back against this position of the Satan.

"Hold fast" is the same word as in Is. 56:2: "And the son of man who holds it fast". To "hold fast" means to keep covenant (2 Chron. 7:22). The "it" the exiles were to hold fast to was God's righteousness and not their own (Is. 56:1). But they refused to do so because like Job, they held fast (s.w.) to their own righteousness (s.w. Job 27:6).

My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live- Paul was like Job, determined to "have always a conscience void of offence, both toward God and toward man" (Acts 24:16); but later he learnt the lesson of Job, and realized that although his conscience doesn't condemn him, this is not to say he is ultimately right before God (1 Cor. 4:4). For the final appearance of God convicted Job of sin, of the fact that his status as "perfect" before God was by imputed righteousness through grace; and that his spotless personal conscience was not therefore the ultimate decider of his acceptability before God. Just as we must learn that at the last day, we will be judged by God's word and our conscience will not as it were jump out of us and judge us.

Job realized his sinfulness, and yet at the same time he was in a quandary over whether he really had sinned. In Job 27:6 he even feels that his heart does not reproach him over any of the days he has ever lived (RV). This is such an accurate caricature of so many Christian consciences, of so much of our self-examination, both individually and collectively. We of course have to admit that we are sinners, riddled with weakness in so many ways; and of course we do admit this. And yet there is a quandary over whether we really are big time sinners. We feel ourselves to be little sinners, whatever we may theoretically admit. And as such, we fail to appreciate the grace of God's salvation, and therefore we fail to dynamically respond to this as we should do, and thereby our community and our own lives are characterized by the all too evident apathy with which they are; there is so little of the real flame, the fire of true spirituality, which there might be. And dear Job, like us, for all his good works, for all his being such a truly and really nice guy and brother, through and through... he had to be brought down to his knees: "I am vile... I know (now, by implication) that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee... therefore have I uttered that I understood thee; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" .

Job 27:7 Let my enemy be as the wicked. Let him who rises up against me be as the unrighteous-
I wonder whether this specific enemy was Eliphaz. He is singled out by God at the end (Job 42:7), and the other two friends largely repeat his arguments in their speeches. He was from Teman, the very place from where the bands of marauders had come upon Job's encampment. He was one of the sons of God of Job 1:6 who had heard the Satan's opening arguments, and it seems he and the friends replaced the satan in the narrative; and therefore the distress brought by the satan may partly have been brought by Eliphaz and his team. He had risen up against Job, and therefore the descriptions of "the wicked" given by Job were all relevant to him and the friends.

Job 27:8 For what is the hope of the godless, when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?-
GNB "What hope is there for the godless in the hour when God demands their life?". This appears to have been a source for the Lord's parable of the rich fool. "The godless" is AV "the hypocrite". This would be so true of the friends if indeed they were the ones behind Job's loss of cattle at the hand of the Bedouin tribesmen.

Job 27:9 Will God hear his cry when trouble comes on him?-
Job 27:9,10 seems to be saying [although the Hebrew text is rather obscure] that every man on his deathbed cries to God in some kind of prayer; but a belief in the mortality of man will result in the righteous man having lived a life of prayerful crying to the Father, which will be in context with his final cry to God in his time of dying. The final truth was that God did not hear the cry of the friends- but He asks Job to pray for them, and He heard Job's cry for them.

Job 27:10 Will he delight himself in the Almighty, and call on God at all times?-
As noted on :9, "at all times" means that the wicked only cry to God on their deathbeds and not "at all times" in their lifetimes. The exiles like Job were to finally 'delight themselves' in God at the restoration, if they followed Job's path (s.w. Is. 58:14). But Job is saying that whilst sinners refuse to repent, then they can never do this; and that was the fate of the exiles.

Job 27:11 I will teach you about the hand of God. That which is with the Almighty will I not conceal-
See on Job 6:10. Some consider that there is textual corruption in Job, and Job 27:11-23 are Zophar's apparently missing third speech. But I would argue otherwise, apart from a dislike of positing textual corruption in order to explain away what may otherwise be hard of explanation. The speech of Job recorded in Job 26-31 is the longest in the book. The pattern of each of the three friends giving a speech and Job replying, spread over three speeches, appears to slightly break down in that Zophar doesn't give his third speech. We note that Bildad's final speech was very brief, and was really only quoting previous words from Eliphaz (Job 25). This could all create the intentional impression in the drama that the friends were running out of steam in their arguments. Job now makes a very long speech... but that is not his victory nor justification. That is only provided by God's appearance at the end, when Job repents of his words. It is usual for the genre of drama to play with audience expectation and dash it to make a point. That is what is happening here, with Bildad's final speech really a flop, and Zophar not giving the speech which the structure of the drama requires him to make. And we are also led to expect Job's final long speech to be his justification, seeing most of what he says is true in itself. But this too is a dashed expectation; for God appears and condemns them all, and then justifies Job by grace.

Job 27:12 Behold, all of you have seen it yourselves; why then have you become altogether vain?-
They had been present at the opening dialogue with the Satan; and so they had 'seen' that Satan's hand was God's hand (:11). But they had not retained that in their knowledge, and had become vain in that they had come to argue and reason from a purely secular, Godless perspective.

Job 27:13 This is the portion of a wicked man with God, the heritage of oppressors, which they receive from the Almighty-
The "this" refers to the description of the fate of the wicked which we now have in :13-23. Nearly all the descriptions have reference to Job's own experience. But his point is that he the righteous is suffering exactly the judgment of the wicked; he is now starting to realize that his sufferings were on behalf of others, even perhaps of the friends. And this comes to final term when at the end, he becomes their saviour, by grace. 

Job 27:14 If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword. His offspring shall not be satisfied with bread-
Seeing his own children had been destroyed by the sword, Job presumably was accepting that he was among the "wicked", as he does elsewhere (e.g. Job 9:2). Hos. 9:13,16 repeats such language regarding the punishment of sinful Israel: "Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer". Dt. 28:41 has the same idea.

Job 27:15 Those who remain of him shall be buried in death. His widows shall make no lamentation-
Alluding to how Job's wife turned against him and was making no lamentation over his grief.

Job 27:16 Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare clothing as the clay-
The sense is "Even if he..." had done these things. Job clearly has himself in view (see on :13), hence his conditional language (also in :17). 

Job 27:17 he may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver-
The friends insisted Job was not innocent (s.w. Job 4:7). Job said he was. So he recognizes that whilst it appears that his wealth is being taken away by others because he has sinned, there will yet come a day when he is justified, and 'divides the silver'; and he as the innocent (Job 9:23) will condemn his hypocritical friends (Job 17:8). It was perhaps in recognition of this that those who had once rejected him come and give him silver (Job 42:11).

Job 27:18 He builds his house as the moth, as a booth which the watchman makes-
Again Job refers to himself (Job 4:19; 13:28), recognizing that indeed he is suffering the judgment of the sinner, whilst personally righteous. Being consumed by a moth was to be the fate of apostate Israel (s.w. Is. 50:9; 51:8). But they could follow the path of Job to restoration, despite feeling and being condemned to death.

Job 27:19 He lies down rich, but he shall not do so again. He opens his eyes, and he is not-
Perhaps as GNB "One last time they will lie down rich, and when they wake up, they will find their wealth gone".

Job 27:20 Terrors overtake him like waters. A storm steals him away in the night-
A reference to the terrors or panic attacks which Job complained of (Job 6:4; 31:23), and the whirlwind storm which had suddenly taken away Job's family and wealth.

Job 27:21 The east wind carries him away, and he departs. It sweeps him out of his place-
Job felt he too had been swept out of his place (Job 7:10). The wind from the east was the wind which swept in out of the wilderness to destroy Job (Job 1:19).

Job 27:22 For it hurls at him, and does not spare, as he flees away from his hand-
AV "For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand". Zophar claims that Job was going to flee from the arrow of Divine judgment, but would all the same be struck through by it (Job 20:24,25). God's response was that His creatures didn't flee from His arrows (s.w. Job 41:28). Neither did Job flee from God, although he wanted to (see AV); he was in harmony with the natural creation. Zophar was wrong. Job didn't flee from God but quite the opposite- he keeps begging God to reveal Himself, and He does so at the end of the book.

Job 27:23 Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place
- It was the friends who did this to Job, just as Zion's abusers did to her (Lam. 2:15 s.w.), hissing her into captivity (Jer. 19:8). Again, Job is presented as bearing the judgments of God's apostate people, who were also moved out of their place into exile.