Job Replies: There Is No Arbiter
9 Then Job answered and said:
“Truly I know that it is so:
But how can a man be in the right before God?
If one wished to contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
He is wise in heart and mighty in strength
—who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—
he who removes mountains, and they know it not,
when he overturns them in his anger,
who shakes the earth out of its place,
and its pillars tremble;
who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
who seals up the stars;
who alone stretched out the heavens
and trampled the waves of the sea;
who made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
who does great things beyond searching out,
and marvelous things beyond number.
Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back?
Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’
“God will not turn back his anger;
beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab.
How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him;
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
If I summoned him and he answered me,
I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
For he crushes me with a tempest
and multiplies my wounds without cause;
he will not let me get my breath,
but fills me with bitterness.
If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!
If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?
Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me;
though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
I am blameless; I regard not myself;
I loathe my life.
It is all one; therefore I say,
‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
When disaster brings sudden death,
he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
he covers the faces of its judges—
if it is not he, who then is it?
“My days are swifter than a runner;
they flee away; they see no good.
They go by like skiffs of reed,
like an eagle swooping on the prey.
If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,
I will put off my sad face, and be of good cheer,’
I become afraid of all my suffering,
for I know you will not hold me innocent.
I shall be condemned;
why then do I labor in vain?
If I wash myself with snow
and cleanse my hands with lye,
yet you will plunge me into a pit,
and my own clothes will abhor me.
For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together.
There is no arbiter between us,
who might lay his hand on us both.
Let him take his rod away from me,
and let not dread of him terrify me.
Then I would speak without fear of him,
for I am not so in myself.
Job 9 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Back in college I used to have a roommate who told me when he was frustrated with God, would cuss Him out. Yes, you read that right.
From time to time I think of this long past friend. He was a good guy, a Believer, struggled with his faith at times, weighed in on social issues with a different outlook than most. He challenged me simply by his own differing outlook on many things. That said, this concept of cussing God out never really sat well with me. His thought process was, “God already knows how I’m feeling so I’m just being honest.” I agree on this aspect of our bringing our frustration to God, our hurts and whatnot – and yes being completely honest before Him. However I’m not on the page that God can be cussed out and it not affect us or our relationship. More to the point, it’s completely disrespectful.
I sometimes think we take our relationship with God far too casual.
As Job continues to wrestle with his friends advice or judgment upon himself, he continues to regard God not as the great punisher but as one who is completely righteous and speaks toward His majesty. In contrast to his own righteousness compared to the tremendous pure righteousness of God who has created all things – how can anyone stand? This is what he asks.
“How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him?”Job 9:14 NIV
Job understands we have no debate with the Almighty. He can’t demand an answer for what is going on in his life and why he’s suffered so. Although this will be wrestling match for Job and later in chapter 42 Job will repent for this process and behavior – it is an ongoing issue he does.
Job didn’t believe he deserved the suffering. He brought his case again and again before God. He recognized however arguing and anger would solve nothing; it’s unproductive. He also never claimed to be perfect but he does speak of his faithfulness to God. The point here is – Job endured all he did, had deep questions that were painful but he never cursed God. He didn’t reject Him.
The reality for many is if we get into such a casual mindset with our God, when things don’t go our way – we can harden ourselves to Him. We can completely isolate ourselves from Him and consequently not hear the Spirit of God speaking to us. It is completely normal for us through times of extended sickness or prolonged pain to become impatient. It’s a normal course through these things to even doubt or despair.
But we must through it all continue to wrestle with our human feelings and not allow ourselves to become so insensitive or hardened to God who is the Creator of all. Through our pain we must guard against such things. Trust is not easy, in particular when we feel our life has been turned upside down. But the bedrock of our faith must land again and again to that trust we had when we first believed.
Job 9 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The description of God’s power in verses 5-9 is breathtaking. I like the HCSB version…
God is wise and all-powerful. Who has opposed Him and come out unharmed? 5 He removes mountains without their knowledge, overturning them in His anger. 6 He shakes the earth from its place so that its pillars tremble. 7 He commands the sun not to shine and seals off the stars. 8 He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. 9 He makes the stars: the Bear, Orion, the Pleiades, and the constellations of the southern sky.Job 9:4-9 HCSB
Job builds up God’s strength and power only to reflect on it with these humble words…
How then can I answer Him or choose my arguments against Him? 15 Even if I were in the right, I could not answer. I could only beg my Judge for mercy.Job 9:14-15 HCSB
Job is articulating two very great truths that he cannot reconcile in his mind. God is over all things, and for whatever reason, allowing his suffering. But on the other hand, God is his only hope for this suffering to subside. We tend to fall in the latter category of thinking God should always step in and put at end to suffering. But the reality is, sometimes He doesn’t.
In his mind, Job seems to be exploring deep truths but abandoning them when they become too big for him to understand. He then jumps to another thought which, again, is promptly abandoned. He reasons that God is just, wise, and strong but he wrestles with whether or not God is fair.
It is all the same. Therefore I say, “He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.”Job 9:22 HCSB
Have you ever been there? I have. Faith tells us God is fair all the time, but our flesh struggles. In the end, we know that He will do exactly what He wants, and that it will be right. But many times, it’s not our version of “right.”
It’s moments like these I am thankful I have an advocate in Jesus Christ because if right and wrong were left to me, I would fail miserably. The most faithful and joyful Christians I know are the ones who trust God in their darkest hour. They believe His will is perfect and they submit everything in their life over to Him.