Job 9:31
Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
9:25-35 What little need have we of pastimes, and what great need to redeem time, when it runs on so fast towards eternity! How vain the enjoyments of time, which we may quite lose while yet time continues! The remembrance of having done our duty will be pleasing afterwards; so will not the remembrance of having got worldly wealth, when it is all lost and gone. Job's complaint of God, as one that could not be appeased and would not relent, was the language of his corruption. There is a Mediator, a Daysman, or Umpire, for us, even God's own beloved Son, who has purchased peace for us with the blood of his cross, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through him. If we trust in his name, our sins will be buried in the depths of the sea, we shall be washed from all our filthiness, and made whiter than snow, so that none can lay any thing to our charge. We shall be clothed with the robes of righteousness and salvation, adorned with the graces of the Holy Spirit, and presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. May we learn the difference between justifying ourselves, and being thus justified by God himself. Let the tempest-tossed soul consider Job, and notice that others have passed this dreadful gulf; and though they found it hard to believe that God would hear or deliver them, yet he rebuked the storm, and brought them to the desired haven. Resist the devil; give not place to hard thoughts of God, or desperate conclusions about thyself. Come to Him who invites the weary and heavy laden; who promises in nowise to cast them out.Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch - God would treat me as if he should throw me into the gutter, and as if I were wholly defiled and polluted. The meaning is, God would not admit the proofs which I should adduce of my innocence, but would overwhelm me with the demonstrations of my guilt. I doubt not that Job urged this with some degree of impatience, and with some improper feelings. He felt, evidently, that God was so great and powerful, that it was vain to contend with him. But it is true in a higher and more important sense than he seems to have understood it. After all the efforts which we can make to justify, vindicate, or purify ourselves, it is in the power of God to overwhelm us with the consciousness of guilt. He has access to the heart. He can show us our past sins. He can recall what we have forgotten, and overwhelm us with the remembrance of our deep depravity. It is in vain, therefore, for any man to attempt to justify himself before God. After the most labored argument to prove his own innocence, after all the confidence which he can repose in his own morality and his own righteousness, still God can with infinite ease overwhelm him with the consciousness of guilt. How many people that were once relying on their own morality for their salvation, have been bowed down with a consciousness of guilt in a revival of religion! How many who halve been trusting to their own righteousness have been overwhelmed with deep and awful conviction, when they have been brought to lie on a bed of death! Let no man, therefore, rely on his own righteousness, when God accuses him with being a sinner. Let no one trust to his own morality for salvation - for soon it will all be seen to be insufficient, and the soul must appear covered over with the consciousness of guilt at the awful bar of God.

And mine own clothes shall abhor me - Margin, Make me to be abhorred. That is, they shall be filthy and offensive - like one who has been rolled in the mire. God has power to make me seem defiled and loathsome, notwithstanding all my efforts to cleanse myself.

30. snow water—thought to be more cleansing than common water, owing to the whiteness of snow (Ps 51:7; Isa 1:18).

never so clean—Better, to answer to the parallelism of the first clause which expresses the cleansing material, "lye:" the Arabs used alkali mixed with oil, as soap (Ps 73:13; Jer 2:22).

In the ditch, i.e. in miry and puddle water, whereby I shall become most filthy. But as Job’s washing, so God’s plunging him, &c., is not understood really, as if God would make him filthy; but only judicially, that God would prove him to be a most guilty and filthy creature, notwithstanding all the professions and evidences of his purity before men.

Mine own clothes shall abhor me, i.e. I shall be so altogether filthy, that my own clothes, if they had any sense in them, would abhor to touch me: a figure called prosopopaeia.

Yet shall thou plunge me in the ditch,.... In the filthy ditch of sin, the pit wherein is no water, the horrible pit, the mire and clay, in which all unregenerate men are, and to which hypocrites return, as the swine to its wallowing in the mire; and in which impurity self-righteous persons are, and are sooner or later made to appear, notwithstanding all their outward righteousness, holiness, purity, and perfection they boast of; and though Job was neither of these, not an unregenerate man, nor an hypocrite, nor a self-righteous person; yet he knew that, in comparison of the perfect purity and holiness of God, he should appear exceedingly impure; and that God would treat him as such, and hold him out to the view of others as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, by continuing his afflictions, from whence it would be concluded that he was the most impure person; and indeed by the ditch may be meant the ditch of afflictions, as Sephorno, either his present ones continued, his filthy ulcers and scabs, with which his body was covered all over, or new afflictions he would bring him into, where he would sink in deep mire, there being no standing, Psalm 69:2; some understand this of the grave, the ditch or pit of corruption, into which he should be cast, and there putrefy and rot: but the other senses seem best:

and mine own clothes shall abhor me; not his clothes in a literal sense; either while living, his filthy ulcers being such, that were his clothes sensible of them, they would loathe and abhor to touch him, and cover him; or when dead, his sepulchre garments, his shroud, or winding sheet, would disdain to cover such a filthy body, overspread with worms and dust; or as Vatablus paraphrases it, clothes do not become a dead body; or as Mr. Broughton,"when I go naked to the grave, as though my clothes loathed me:''but the words are rather to be understood figuratively, either of some of his friends that were as near and as close to him as his clothes, or had been, but now were estranged from him, and loathed and abhorred him, see Job 19:13; or better, of his best works of righteousness, which he put on as a robe, Job 29:14; and which are a covering to the saints before men, and are ornamental to them, though not justifying in the sight of God; and indeed in themselves, and compared with the holy law, and holy nature of God, are imperfect and impure; and if God was to enter into judgment with men, they would be so far from justifying them in his sight, or rendering them acceptable to him, that they would cause them to be abhorred by him, as all self-righteousness and self-righteous persons are, see Proverbs 21:27; yea, even the best works of men are but dung in the judgment of a good man himself, what then must they be in the account of God? Philippians 3:8; Job here, and in Job 9:30, has most exalted ideas of the purity, holiness, and majesty of God, so that no creature, nor creature holiness, be they ever so perfect, can stand before him, or be pure in his sight.

Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own {z} clothes shall abhor me.

(z) Whatever I would use to cover my filthiness with, it would disclose me even more.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. An expressive figure for, to cover again with uncleanness. The naked body (Job 9:30) is supposed plunged in the ditch, and the clothes refuse to cover so foul an object.

Verse 31. - Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch. Yet would God with ease undo his work, show his purity to be impure, his righteousness to be filthy rags, and thus, as it were, replunge him in the mire and clay from which he had sought to free himself, and hold him forth a more loathsome wretch than ever. And mine own clothes shall abhor me. So loathsome would he be that his very garments, stained and fouled by his disease, would shrink away from him and hate to touch him. Job 9:3129 If I am wicked, why do I exert myself in vain?

30 If I should wash myself with snow water,

And make my hands clean with lye,

31 Then thou wouldst plunge me into the pit,

And my clothes would abhor me.

32 For He is not a man as I, that I should answer Him,

That we should go together to judgment.

33 There is not an arbitrator between us

Who should lay his hand upon us both.

The clause with strongly accented "I" affirms that in relation to God is from the first, and unchangeably, a wicked, i.e., guilty, man (Psalm 109:7) (רשׁע, to be a wicked man, means either to act as such Job 10:15, or to appear as such, be accounted as such, as here and Job 10:7; Hiph., Job 9:20, to condemn). Why, therefore, should he vainly (הבל, acc. adv., like breath, useless) exert himself by crying for help, and basing his plaint on his innocence? In Job 9:30 the Chethib is במו, the Keri במי, as the reverse in Isaiah 25:10; mo itself appears in the signification water (Egyptian muau), in the proper names Moab and Moshe (according to Jablonsky, ex aqua servatus); in במו, however, the mo may be understood according to Ges. 103, 2. This is the meaning - no cleansing, even though he should use snow and בּר (a vegetable alkali), i.e., not even the best-grounded self-justification can avail him, for God would still bring it to pass, that his clearly proved innocence should change to the most horrible impurity. Ewald, Rdiger, and others translate incorrectly: my clothes would make me disgusting. The idea is tame. The Piel תּעב signifies elsewhere in the book (Job 19:19; Job 30:10) to abhor, not to make abhorrent; and the causative meaning is indeed questionable, for מתעב (Isaiah 49:7) signifies loathing, as מכסּה (Job 23:17) covering, and Ezekiel 16:25 certainly borders on the signification "to make detestable," but תעב may also be in the primary meaning, abominari, the strongest expression for that contempt of the beauty bestowed by God which manifests itself by prostitution. Translate: My clothes would abhor me; which does not mean: I should be disgusted with myself (Hirzel); Job is rather represented as naked; him, the naked one, God would - says he - so plunge into the pit that his clothes would conceive a horror of him, i.e., start back in terror at the idea of being put on and defiled by such a horrible creature (Schlottm., Oehler). For God is not his equal, standing on the same level with him: He, the Absolute Being, is accuser and judge in one person; there is between them no arbitrator who (or that he) should lay, etc. Mercier correctly explains: impositio manus est potestatis signum; the meaning therefore is: qui utrumque nostrum velut manu imposita coerceat.

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