Job 9:2
I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
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Job 9:2. I know it is so of a truth — Namely, as you say, that God must be just and righteous; that purity and uprightness are qualities belonging to him; that he cannot possibly be biased or prejudiced in judging and determining the state and condition of mankind. I am likewise satisfied, that the time we have to live here is too short to compass any considerable points of knowledge; and that, whenever he pleases, he can exercise his power so as to change our exalted mirth to most bitter weeping, our highest joy to the most abject sorrow: can bring the most insolent offender to shame, and dispossess the wicked of his strongest and most magnificent situation. But how — Hebrew, And how, should man — Enosh, weak, frail man, imperfect as he is, be just with God? — Be justified, or clear himself in God’s account. I know that no man is absolutely holy and righteous, if God be severe to mark what is amiss in him.

9:1-13 In this answer Job declared that he did not doubt the justice of God, when he denied himself to be a hypocrite; for how should man be just with God? Before him he pleaded guilty of sins more than could be counted; and if God should contend with him in judgment, he could not justify one out of a thousand, of all the thoughts, words, and actions of his life; therefore he deserved worse than all his present sufferings. When Job mentions the wisdom and power of God, he forgets his complaints. We are unfit to judge of God's proceedings, because we know not what he does, or what he designs. God acts with power which no creature can resist. Those who think they have strength enough to help others, will not be able to help themselves against it.I know it is so of a truth - Job here refers, undoubtedly, to something that had been said before; but whether it is to the general strain of remark, or to some particular expression, may be doubted. Rosenmuller supposes that he refers to what was said by Eliphaz in Job 4:17; but it seems more probable that it is to the general position which had been laid down and defended, that God was just and holy, and that his proceedings were marked with equity. Job admits this, and proceeds to show that it was a truth quite as familiar to him as it was to them. The object of his dwelling on it seems to be to show them that it was no new thing to him, and that he had some views on that important subject which were well worthy of attention.

But how should man be just with God? - Margin, "before." The meaning is, that he could not be regarded as perfectly holy in the sight of God; or that so holy and pure a being as God must see that man was a sinner, and regard him as such; see the sentiment explained in the notes at Job 4:17. The question here asked is, in itself, the most important ever propounded by man - "How shall sinful man be regarded and treated as righteous by his Maker?" This has been the great inquiry which has always been before the human mind. Man is conscious that he is a sinner. He feels that he must be regarded as such by God. Yet his happiness here and hereafter, his peace and all his hope, depend on his being treated as if he were righteous, or regarded as just before God. This inquiry has led to all forms of religion among people; to all the penances and sacrifices of different systems; to all the efforts which have been made to devise some system that shall make it proper for God to treat people as righteous.

The question has never been satisfactorily answered except in the Christian revelation, where a plan is disclosed by which God "may be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth." Through the infinite merits of the Redeemer, man, though conscious that he is personally a sinner, may be treated as if he had never sinned; though feeling that he is guilty, he may consistently be forever treated as if he were just. The question asked by Job implies that such is the evidence and the extent of human guilt, that man can never justify himself. This is clear and indisputable. Man cannot justify himself by the deeds of the law. Justification, as a work of law, is this: A man is charged, for example, with the crime of murder. He sets up in defense that he did not kill, or that if he tools life it was in self-defense, and that he had a right to do it. Unless the fact of killing be proved, and it be shown that he had no right to do in the case as he has done, he cannot be condemned, and the law acquits him. It has no charge against him, and he is just or justified in the sight of the law. But in this sense man can never be just before God. He can neither show that the things charged on him by his Maker were not done, or that being done, he had a right to do them; and being unable to do this, he must be held to be guilty. He can never be justified therefore by the law, and it is only by that system which God has revealed in the gospel, where a conscious sinner may be treated as if he were righteous through the merits of another, that a man can ever be regarded as just before God; see Romans 1:17, note; Romans 3:24-25, note.

2. I know it is so of a truth—that God does not "pervert justice" (Job 8:3). But (even though I be sure of being in the right) how can a mere man assert his right—(be just) with God. The Gospel answers (Ro 3:26). I know it is so, to wit, as you say, that God is just in all his ways, that he doth ordinarily bless the righteous, and punish the wicked.

But how should man be just? Heb. and how, &c.? i.e. and I know that no man is absolutely just, or can defend his righteousness, if God be severe to mark what is amiss in him.

With God; either,

1. Being compared with God; or,

2. Before God, as the same phrase is taken, 1 Samuel 2:26 Psalm 130:3, if he be brought before God’s tribunal to debate the matter with him.

I know it is so of a truth,.... That is, that God is just, and does not pervert justice and judgment, as Bildad had observed, Job 8:3; Job was a man of great natural parts and capacity; he had a large share of knowledge of things, natural, civil, and moral; and he was a good man, in whom the true light of grace shined; and being, enlightened by the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of divine things, he knew much of God, of his being and perfections, and of the methods of his grace, especially in the justification of men, as appears by various passages in this chapter; he knew that God was just and holy in all his ways and works, whether of providence or grace; and this he kept in sight amidst all his afflictions, and was ready to acknowledge it: he knew this "of a truth"; that is, most certainly; for there are some truths that are so plain and evident that a man may be assured of, and this was such an one with Job; he had no need to be instructed in this article; he was as knowing in this point, as well as in others, as Bildad or any of his friends; nor did he need to be sent to the ancients to inquire of them, or to prepare himself for the search of the fathers, in order to acquire the knowledge of this, to which Bildad had advised; yet, though this was so clear a point, about which there was no room for further contest; but then the matter is:

how should man be just with God? if not angels, if not man in his best estate, in which he was vanity when compared with God; then much less frail, feeble, mortal, sinful men, even the best of men, considered in themselves, and with respect to their own righteousness: for, to "be just" is not to be so through an infusion of righteousness and holiness into men, which in the best of men is their sanctification and not their justification; but this is a legal term, and stands opposed to condemnation, and signifies a man's being condemned and pronounced righteous in a judiciary way; so a man cannot be adjudged, reckoned, or accounted by God upon the foot of works of righteousness done by him; since his best works are imperfect, not answerable to the law, but very defective, and so not justifying; are opposite to the grace of God, by which, in an evangelic sense, men are justified; these would encourage boasting, which is excluded in God's way of justifying sinners; and could justification be by them, the death of Christ would be in vain, and there would have been no need of him and his justifying righteousness: especially, it is a certain thing, that a man can never be "just", or "justified with God", in such a way, or through any righteousness wrought out by him; that is, either he is not and cannot be just in comparison of God; for, if the inhabitants of the heavens are not pure in his sight, the holy angels; and if man, at his best estate, was altogether vanity when compared with him, what must sinful mortals be? or not be just at his bar; should he mark their iniquities, enter into judgment with them, or an action against them, summon them before him to answer to charges he has to exhibit; they could not stand before him, or go off acquitted or discharged: or in his account; for his judgment is according to truth; he can never reckon that a perfect righteousness which is an imperfect one: or in his sight; for, though men may be just in comparison of others, or at an human bar, in an human court of judicature, and in the account of men, and in their sight, to whom they may appear outwardly righteous, as well as in their own sight; yet not in the sight of God, who sees all things, the heart and all in it, every action, and the spring of it; see Psalm 143:2 Romans 3:20; in this sense, a man can only be just with God through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, accounting that to him, putting it upon him, and clothing him with it, and so reckoning and pronouncing him righteous through it; and which is entirely consistent with the justice of God, since by it the law is fulfilled, magnified, and made honourable, and justice satisfied; so that God is just, while he is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus, Romans 3:26.

I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be {a} just with God?

(a) Job here answers Eliphaz and Bildad's oration, touching the justice of God, and his innocency, confessing God to be infinite in justice and man to be nothing in respect.

Job 9:2 1 Then Job began, and said:

2 Yea, indeed, I know it is thus,

And how should a man be just with God!

3 Should he wish to contend with God,

He could not answer Him one of a thousand.

4 The wise in heart and mighty in strength,

Who hath defied Him and remained unhurt?

Job does not (Job 9:1) refer to what Eliphaz said (Job 4:17), which is similar, though still not exactly the same; but "indeed I know it is so" must be supposed to be an assert to that which Bildad had said immediately before. The chief thought of Bildad's speech was, that God does not pervert what is right. Certainly (אמנם, scilicet, nimirum, like Job 12:2), - says Job, as he ironically confirms this maxim of Bildad's, - it is so: what God does is always right, because God does it; how could man maintain that he is in the right in opposition to God! If God should be willing to enter into controversy with man, he would not be able to give Him information on one of a thousand subjects that might be brought into discussion; he would be so confounded, so disarmed, by reason of the infinite distance of the feeble creature from his Creator. The attributes (Job 9:4) belong not to man (Olshausen), but to God, as Job 36:5. God is wise of heart (לב equals νοῦς) in putting one question after another, and mighty in strength in bringing to nought every attempt man may make to maintain his own right; to defy Him (הקשׁה, to harden, i.e., ערף, the neck), therefore, always tends to the discomfiture of him who dares to bid Him defiance.

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