Job 9:23

Q – I am currently doing a study on the sovereignty of God and have listened to your series on the subject. I am, however, stuck on one verse. Job 9 is a great chapter on God’s sovereignty, but what do you make of vs.23? I looked up the word (Hebrew: la`ag) and it means mock or deride. Is this verse telling us that God “mocks the calamity of the Innocent” (ESV)? A number of commentators believe that Job in his condition has just gone to far. I wonder why the author of the Bible (Holy Spirit) has allowed Job to go too far. When you have time I would love to hear your opinion.

Jim – Well, you know me – I always have an opinion. 🙂

Overall, I do agree with the notion that Job went overboard here. And here’s why. In context, the passage reads:

“Though I am righteous, my mouth will condemn me; Though I am guiltless, He will declare me guilty. I am guiltless; I do not take notice of myself; I despise my life. It is all one; therefore I say, ‘He destroys the guiltless and the wicked.’ If the scourge kills suddenly, He mocks the despair 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, then who is it?” (Job 9:20-24) NASU

Job is arguing that God’s sovereignty is without question, so the suffering he is enduring must be at God’s hand and by God’s will. But I do think that his emotions are getting the best of him as he begins accusing God of genuine unfairness. Now, that’s perfectly in keeping with the tone and content of the balance of this book. Job demands his “day in court” in Chapter 23 –

“Then Job replied, ‘Even today my complaint is rebellion; His hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! I would present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn the words which He would answer, and perceive what He would say to me. Would He contend with me by the greatness of His power? No, surely He would pay attention to me. There the upright would reason with Him; and I would be delivered forever from my Judge.'” (Job 23:1-7)

But when God does finally respond, He starts out with:

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” (Job 38:1-3)

So, given the sternness of God’s rebuke (and the depth of His arguments in favor of His right to do as He pleases), I have to conclude that some of what Job said deserves this sort of angry response. Granted, God (in His grace) restored Job and argued in favor of Job’s basic integrity, but I think Job’s suffering was so severe that he lapsed into the fleshly desire for self-justification. If we see anything here, it’s that the best of men simply don’t measure up to the standard of God’s perfection. We are merely flesh and bones, struggling to make sense of the free will of the Sovereign.

Now, as far your question about the Holy Spirit allowing Job to go too far, remember that the Holy Spirit did not inhabit individual people until Pentecost. While the Holy Spirit of God certainly oversaw and inspired the writing of His word, I think what we find is a very honest, open account of every man’s fallibility. The Spirit did not gloss over Job’s failures.

I like the honesty in the Bible. It rings of honest men giving true accounts of what they actually experienced. That helps to underscore its authenticity. So, Job’s lapse in judgment is set out there for all to see. The Holy Spirit guaranteed that the truth – the whole truth – was told. Remember that this was merely an account of a man speaking – not a prophet speaking for God. And, as I said, the best of men fall far short of God’s perfection.

I hope that helps a bit.

Yours in Him,

Jim Mc.

Q – Thank You for your time – This helps