Job 9:3
If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) If he will contend with him.If man choose to contend with God, he cannot answer Him one question of a thousand, once in a thousand times.

Job 9:3. If he will contend with him — If God be pleased to contend with man, namely, in judgment, or to debate, or plead with him; he cannot answer him one of a thousand — One accusation among a thousand which God might produce against him. So far would he be from being able to maintain his own innocence against God, if God should set himself against him as his adversary.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.If he will contend with him - That is, if God enters into a controversy with man. If he chooses to charge crime on him, and to hold him responsible for his deeds. The language here is taken from courts of justice, and means that if a trial were instituted, where God should submit charges, and the matter were left to adjudication, man could not answer the charges against him; compare the notes at Isaiah 41:1.

He cannot answer him one of a thousand - For one of a thousand of the sins charged on him. The word "thousand" here is used to denote the largest number, or all. A man who could not answer for one charge brought against him out of a thousand, must be held to be guilty; and the expression here is equivalent to saying that he could not answer him at all. It may also be implied that God has many charges against man. His sins are to be reckoned by thousands. They are numerous as his years, his months, his weeks, his days, his hours, his moments; numerous as his privileges, his deeds, and his thoughts. For not one of those sins can he answer. He can give no satisfactory account before an impartial tribunal for any of them. If so, how deeply guilty is man before God! How glorious that plan of justification by which he can be freed from this long list of offences, and treated as though he had not sinned.

3. If he—God

will contend with him—literally, "deign to enter into judgment."

he cannot answer, &c.—He (man) would not dare, even if he had a thousand answers in readiness to one question of God's, to utter one of them, from awe of His Majesty.

If God be pleased to contend (to wit, in judgment; debate or plead; for so this word is oft used, as Hosea 2:2 4:1 Micah 6:1; compare Isaiah 45:9) with man.

One of a thousand; either to one accusation or argument among a thousand which God shall produce against him, or one time of a thousand. So far will he be from being able to maintain his own innocency against God, if God set himself against him as his adversary. If he will contend with him,.... If God will contend with man, so Sephorno; enter into a controversy with him, litigate and dispute the point in law, whether he is just or not, man cannot answer to the allegations he will produce; or if man should contend with God, a potsherd strive with its maker, to what purpose would it be? he could never avail himself by such a procedure; the match is unequal, there is no striving or contending with God in a judicial, way:

he cannot answer him one of a thousand; which some understand, that God will not answer men; he will not vouchsafe to give an answer to such that plead with him, or talk with him of his judgments in providence, or pretend to vindicate themselves, their ways, and their works, before him; but this sense seems contrary to Jeremiah 12:1; but the meaning is, that man cannot answer God; either not one man out of a thousand, that is, none at all; unless, by one of a thousand, is meant the interpreter, one among a thousand, even the Messiah, the chiefest among ten thousand; the one man of a thousand Solomon found upon search; see Job 33:23; he indeed has made himself responsible for his people, as their surety, and was able to answer for them; and he has answered for them, and made satisfaction for their sins; it was exacted, or required, that is, a full payment of their debts, or a plenary satisfaction for their sins, "and he answered", according to Isaiah 53:7; but rather the sense is, that a man cannot answer, either one time of a thousand (u), or one argument to one article exhibited, or to one objection or charge of a thousand brought against him by the law or justice of God; that is, for one sin of a thousand he has committed; so Mr. Broughton renders it, "to one thing of a thousand" (w); this suggests that the sins of men are numerous; their debts are many, they are more than ten thousand talents, which they are not able to answer to, or pay off, no, not one of them; their iniquities are more than the hairs of their head, they cannot be understood or reckoned: and now a man cannot answer for one of a thousand, or the millions of sins he is guilty of; he cannot deny them, he cannot excuse them, he cannot make satisfaction for anyone of them; they are committed against an infinite Being, and require an infinite satisfaction, which man cannot give; they are violations of a law, and injuries to divine justice, that no man is able to atone for; whatever obedience he is capable of, or does perform, God has a prior right unto it, and therefore can never answer for former transgressions; this being the case, sinful man cannot be just with God upon the foot of his works, which is the thing this observation is made to illustrate: man's obedience is so short, and God's commandment or law so very broad, that these two can never be brought to meet, agree together, or answer to one another; and therefore it may be strongly concluded that a man is justified, if ever he is justified at all, in the sight of God, by faith in Christ and his righteousness, without the deeds of the law, Romans 3:28.

(u) "una vice ex millibus", Schmidt. (w) "Ad rem unam ex mille", Beza; "ad unum argumentum ex mille argumentis", Vatablus; so Castalio, Bar Tzemach.

If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a {b} thousand.

(b) Of a thousand things, which God could lay to his charge, man cannot answer him one.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. if he will contend] Or, if he would; if he (man) should desire to contend with God. “To contend” is a legal term meaning to enter a plea with, the idea of a court or judge being in the mind of the speaker. Here man is supposed to have a plea with God on the question of his innocency, or on any question involving his righteousness. The question in Job 9:4, “Who hath hardened himself against Him?” makes it probable that man is here considered the appellant. Others take the subject to be God: if He were pleased to contend with him (man), cf. Job 9:14; Job 9:16. This suits the second half of the verse, but seems less suitable to the general connexion.

he cannot answer him] Or, he (man) could not answer him (God) one of a thousand of the questions with which in His infinite wisdom (Job 9:4) He would ply him.Verse 3. - If he will contend with him; rather, if he should desire to contend with him; i.e. if, notwithstanding his knowledge of his own weakness and guilt, he should nevertheless be mad enough to desire to contend with God, then he will find that he cannot answer him one of a thousand. Of the charges which God might in his omniscience bring against him, he could not make a satisfactory reply to one in a thousand. It is not that Job admits any special guilt in himself; but such he feels to be the universal condition of humanity. "All have sinned in ten thousand ways, "and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). 16 He dwells with sap in the sunshine,

And his branch spreads itself over his garden.

17 His roots intertwine over heaps of stone,

He looks upon a house of stones.

18 If He casts him away from his place,

It shall deny him: I have not seen thee.

19 Behold, thus endeth his blissful course,

And others spring forth from the dust.

The subject throughout is not the creeping-plant directly, but the ungodly, who is likened to it. Accordingly the expression of the thought is in part figurative and in part literal, יחזה אבנים בּית (Job 8:17). As the creeper has stones before it, and by its interwindings, as it were, so rules them that it may call them its own (v. Gerlach: the exuberant growth twines itself about the walls, and looks proudly down upon the stony structure); so the ungodly regards his fortune as a solid structure, which he has quickly caused to spring up, and which seems to him imperishable. Ewald translates: he separates one stone from another; בּית, according to 217, g, he considers equivalent to בּינת, and signifies apart from one another; but although חזה equals חזז, according to its radical idea, may signify to split, pierce through, still בּית, when used as a preposition, can signify nothing else but, within. Others, e.g., Rosenmller, translate: he marks a place of stones, i.e., meets with a layer of stones, against which he strikes himself; for this also בּית will not do. He who casts away (Job 8:18) is not the house of stone, but God. He who has been hitherto prosperous, becomes now as strange to the place in which he flourished so luxuriantly, as if it had never seen him. Behold, that is the delight of his way (course of life), i.e., so fashioned, so perishable is it, so it ends. From the ground above which he sprouts forth, others grow up whose fate, when they have no better ground of confidence than he, is the same. After he has placed before Job both the blessed gain of him who trusts, and the sudden destruction of him who forgets, God, as the result of the whole, Bildad recapitulates:

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