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Job 9 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Ch. 9 10. Job’s reply to Bildad

The Discourse though formally a reply to Bildad seems to touch also upon things said in the speech of Eliphaz. It is rather difficult to divide into paragraphs, not being calm and logical but passionate and hurried and passing on by rapid steps from one point to another all more or less connected, and fusing all together in the glow of a fire the colours of which are awe before an omnipotent Power, and moral terror and indignation mixed with piteous despair at the indiscriminate severity with which it crushes men.

Job starts with a sneering adhesion to the maxim of his friends, How can man be righteous with God? by which he means, How can man make his righteousness appear, though he has it, seeing God’s might will overpower him in all attempts to substantiate it? This idea is carried on throughout ch. 9. At the end of this chapter there is a pause. The sufferer has exhausted his idea in his terrible pictures of the Divine might and the hopeless paralysis of the Creature before His Majesty in any meeting with Him to vindicate its own innocence.

But now as he pauses for a moment and looks around on his condition, the idea returns with a new force and fills his mind, and pushes him out upon a new stream of complaint. And as in ch. Job 7:12-21 he had exhausted possibility in speculating what it could be in man or himself that provoked the Almighty’s hostility to him, he now boldly enters the Divine mind itself and explores every corner of it in the hope of discovering what thought or feeling or defect in God it could be that led Him thus to afflict and destroy him in a way in such contradiction to His former gracious treatment of him. Baffled in every effort he leaps to the desperate conclusion that His present treatment of him reveals God’s real character, and that His former favour and care had been lavished on him only that at the last He might the more effectually torment him.

Thus the Discourse falls into two great sections:

Ch. 9. God’s might and the terror of His Majesty will prevent man from substantiating his innocence in his plea with God.

Ch. 10. Job’s efforts to discover in the Divine mind the secret of the terrible afflictions with which God visited him.

Ch. 9. God’s Might and the Terror of his Majesty will prevent man from establishing his innocence in his plea with God

Starting with the question, How can man substantiate his innocence in the face of God’s overpowering might ( Job 9:2-3), Job passes on to a delineation of this Divine power, which he conceives as a terrible irresistible Force, which moves mountains, and shifts the earth from its place; which dictates to the sun that he shine not; which made the mighty constellations of the sky; and whose workings are beyond the compass of the human mind to grasp ( Job 9:4-10).

Then passing from the material world to creatures he imagines this Power coming, say, upon himself, unseen, beyond intelligence ( Job 9:11), irresistible, irresponsible ( Job 9:12), and cites as an instance good for all the memorable defeat of the abettors of Rahab, the helpers of Rahab succumbed to him, how then should I answer him? ( Job 9:13-14). What Job describes is a meeting of God and man that the latter may uphold his innocence against Him, or perhaps any meeting of God and man; and such a meeting has Job to face in the attempt to establish his innocence. He must be overpowered and fail though guiltless: if I were innocent I could not assert my innocence, I must fall down and supplicate my omnipotent Opponent ( Job 9:15). This feeling of helplessness before a crushing power altogether overmasters Job and rouses him to a recklessness which is that of despair, and going back upon his words, if I were innocent, he cries, I am innocent, innocent and guilty He destroys alike; the earth is given into the hands of the wicked, He covers the faces of the judges thereof if it is not He, who then is it? ( Job 9:16-24).

But now the paroxysm being over Job proceeds more calmly to speak of his own condition, which is but an illustration of what is everywhere, seen, but sorrow and perplexity now prevail over indignation. He describes the pitiful brevity of his life ( Job 9:25-26). And with a touching pathos he tells how he sometimes resolves to leave off his sad countenance and brighten up, but the thought that God has resolved not to hold him innocent again crushes him, he has to be guilty, and all his efforts to shew himself to be clear are vain ( Job 9:27-31). And he rounds off his speech with a reference to that with which he began, the central difficulty: God is not a man that man might answer Him; there is no umpire between Him and man to impose his authority on both; but if He would lift His afflicting rod from Job and not affright him with His Majesty, he would speak without fear, for his conscience is void of offence ( Job 9:32-35).

Consult other comments:

Job 9:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Job 9:0 - College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

Job 9:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Job 9:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Job 9:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Job 9:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Job 9:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges