William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Then Job answered and said,Job Chapter 9
Job 9. Now we come to a very grand chapter, but still we find the lack of Christ. Job raises the question. "I know it is so of a truth." He did not deny what they were saying, about the hypocrite, in the least; he agreed with them fully. Only he said, as it were, 'You are all mistaken in thinking I am a hypocrite.' "I know it is so of a truth; but how should man be just with God?" There was the great difficulty for him. He fully believed in God's faithfulness to himself, and His faithfulness to His children generally; but still where was the ground? Well there was no ground yet at all. It was all hope. It was a hope of the Christ that was coming, without their knowing how Christ would answer to that hope. They only knew it would be all right, but how, they had no idea. That Christ should become the righteousness of the believer - oh, what a wonderful thing that is! Well, the prophet Jeremiah speaks of Jehovah's righteousness; but I do not believe the prophet Jeremiah understood anything about it at all. How could he? Nobody could. Look at the apostles themselves. They had all the Old Testament to help them, and all the teaching of the Lord Jesus during the time of His ministry, yet they were entirely ignorant of it. They had not a notion of it until the cross began to enlighten them, and particularly the resurrection, and fully, the Holy Ghost - the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. He brought in the truth that was in Christ, but their eyes were holden that they could not take it in - could not see.
So Job describes in a very grand manner what God is in His ways - His uncontrollable power and authority. He knew man was weak and faulty. Nevertheless, Job did not doubt that God would see him through all his difficulties, but on what ground of righteousness he could not conceive. If man was a poor sinful man, and nevertheless God showed him saving mercy, how was man to be just? You cannot put justice and sins together until you have got Christ, who died for the sins and rose again for the believer's justification. There the sins are completely blotted out. How could Job know anything about that. Nobody knew it; no man on earth. Their idea of the Messiah was more of a great king that would be full of goodness and mercy to his people upon the earth. But that He should be made unto us righteousness as well as wisdom and sanctification and redemption I oh, dear no! they did not in the least understand; how could they? I daresay that the people in Christendom think it was all known pretty much as they knew it now. There was no power, no joy, no peace, but always entreating that God would show them mercy as poor, miserable sinners; there was no idea of salvation. Well, here Job describes God's power in a wonderful way. "Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble; which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and sealeth up the stars; which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea." Very grand; wonderfully so; and very true. "Which maketh Arcturus" - that is in the constellation of Arctophylax or Bootes (the Herdsman), near the seven stars which people call "Charles' Wain." The Arabs call the latter, however, a very different thing, viz., "The Greater Bear." They made the four stars to be the body, and the three stars were the tail. However, this is Arcturus; and Orion and the Pleiades go by the same names still. These are all in the northern sphere; but the people of those days had penetrated enough to cross the line, and they were aware that there was a southern world. They did not know much about it; they knew very little. Of course they did not know America, except very obscurely. There were hints from time to time that there was something in the west; but in the south they had no idea of Australia or New Zealand.
He goes on, "which doeth great things, past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not; he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?" (verses 6-12). That is exactly where Job was. He was quite sure that it was of God, and that is the very thing that made the difficulty. Because his conscience was pure toward God, and he knew the goodness of God, and yet how was this? He could not understand it, neither did they in the slightest degree. "If God will not withdraw His anger, the proud helpers do stoop under Him. How much less shall I answer Him?" There he is beginning to feel his weakness. He was not a proud man; but as all men are, till they learn in the way that I have described, he had a very good opinion of himself. That must all come down. If a man is to be blessed, or a woman, the blessing will not come by a good opinion of oneself; that is wrong, and the greatest hindrance to the blessing of God and the enjoyment of His grace. "Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer." There, you see, was thorough piety. "But I would make supplication to my judge. If I called, and he had answered me, yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice."
Well, that was great ignorance of God; because God does answer, and God does hear; and God delights in His children now; now that they are cleared, now that they know Him, He delights in perfect intimacy and love with Himself. "For he breaketh me with a tempest" - and that was true - "and multiplieth my wounds without cause." Ah! without cause; that is a little too much to say. He had His own wise cause; He had His own blessed end. He meant that Job should be a far happier man and brighter in his state than he had ever been before; and till Christ came it could be only by making him a bag of broken bones - to learn that all the goodness was in God and all the badness was in himself. "If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong; and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked." That is what they thought was a terrible blasphemy, but that is what he thinks.
We understand it. The greatest calamity might come, and God send it, and a number of people perfectly innocent might perish just as much as the wicked people - say the sack of a city, or a pestilence sent by God in His moral government. Well, I say, these things are there undoubtedly, and Job stuck to that. All their talk did not at all drive him from the plain fact which they shirked and shut their eyes to. "The earth," he says, "is given into the hand of the wicked." And is not that true? Is not Satan the god, and the prince, of this world? That is wicked enough. And further, "He covereth the faces of the judges thereof," i.e., he allows the judges to pronounce altogether wrongly and unjustly. That is, somehow or other their faces are veiled from the light, and they judge according to appearance. It is very certain that that is not a way to judge soundly. "If not, where, and who is he?" Who is he that does that? These things happen; innocent people suffer; guilty people escape; all these things are coming every day - are coming in England. It is not merely in Turkey, or Russia, or Tartary, or China; no, it is in England, in London; and nobody can hinder it. Things are out of course, and will be till the Lord takes the reins.
"If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself; I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent. If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain? If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me." That is, God will show him to be defective after all. That is true. If you are resting upon yourself, you are resting upon a ground that is not approved before God. If you are resting upon Christ, you have got the only solid ground that never can be taken from you. So he closes. "For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysmen betwixt us." That is what Christ became; Christ became the mediator between God and men; and not merely a mediator, but a mediator who is equally divine with the God before whom He acts as mediator for us. If there had not been the hand of God in the cross, there could have been no divine redemption. It was God that forsook His Son; it was God that turned away His face from Him; and, therefore, now what is brought in is the righteousness of God. And there is nothing against that. But it is a justifying righteousness; it is not a condemning righteousness. The same God that condemned under the law saved under grace, because of Christ.
I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger.
Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.
Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.
How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?
Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge.
If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.
For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.
If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?
If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.
This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?
Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.
They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.
If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself:
I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.
If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?
If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me.