Job 9:4
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
He is wise in heart and mighty in strength—who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?—

King James Bible
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?

American Standard Version
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: Who hath hardened himself against him, and prospered?-

Douay-Rheims Bible
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath resisted him, and hath had peace ?

English Revised Version
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and prospered?

Webster's Bible Translation
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?

Job 9:4 Parallel
Commentary
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

20 Behold! God despiseth not the perfect man,

And taketh not evil-doers by the hand.

21 While He shall fill thy mouth with laughing,

And thy lips with rejoicing,

22 They who hate thee shall be clothed with shame,

And the tent of the ungodly is no more.

"To take by the hand," i.e., ready to help as His own, as Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 42:6. Instead of עד (Job 8:21), there is no great difficulty in reading עוד: again (as e.g., Psalm 42:6) He will fill; but even עד is supportable; it signifies, like Job 1:18; Psalm 141:10, while. On the form ימלּה, vid., Ges. 75, 21, b. This close of Bildad's speech sounds quite like the Psalms (comp. Psalm 126:2 with Job 8:21; Psalm 35:26; Psalm 109:29; Psalm 132:18, with Job 8:22). Bildad does all he can to win Job over. He calls the ungodly שׂנאיך, to show that he tries to think and expect the best of Job.

We have seen that Job in his second speech charges God with the appearance of injustice and want of compassion. The friends act as friends, by not allowing this to pass without admonition. After Job has exhausted himself with his plaints, Bildad enters into the discussion in the above speech. He defends the justice of God against Job's unbecoming words. His assertion that God does not swerve from the right, is so true that it would be blasphemy to maintain against him that God sometimes perverts the right. And Bildad seems also to make the right use of this truth when he promises a glorious issue to his suffering, as a substantial proof that God does not deal unjustly towards him; for Job's suffering does actually come to such an issue, and this issue in its accomplishment destroys the false appearance that God had been unjust or unmerciful towards him. Bildad expresses his main point still more prudently, and more in accordance with the case before him, when he says, "Behold! God does not act hostilely towards the godly, neither does He make common cause with the evil-doer" (Job 8:20), - a confession which he must allow is on both sides the most absolute truth. By the most telling figures he portrays the perishableness of the prosperity of those who forget God, and paints in glowing colours on this dark background the future which awaits Job. What is there in this speech of Bildad to censure, and how is it that it does not produce the desired cheering effect on Job?

It is true that nothing that God sends to man proceeds from injustice, but it is not true that everything that He sends to him comes from His justice. As God does not ordain suffering for the hardened sinner in order to improve him, because He is merciful, so He does not ordain suffering for the truly godly in order to punish him, because He is just. What we call God's attributes are only separate phases of His indivisible holy being, - ad extra, separate modes of His operation in which they all share, - of which, when in operation, one does not act in opposition to another; they are not, however, all engaged upon the same object at one time. One cannot say that God's love manifests itself in action in hell, nor His anger in heaven; nor His justice in the afflictions of the godly, and His mercy in the sufferings of the godless.

Herein is Bildad's mistake, that he thinks his commonplace utterance is sufficient to explain all the mysteries of human life. We see from his judgment of Job's children how unjust he becomes, since he regards the matter as the working out of divine justice. He certainly speaks hypothetically, but in such a way that he might as well have said directly, that their sudden death was the punishment of their sin. If he had found Job dead, he would have considered him as a sinner, whom God had carried off in His anger. Even now he has no pleasure in promising Job help and blessing; accordingly from his point of view he expresses himself very conditionally: If thou art pure and upright. We see from this that his belief in Job's uprightness is shaken, for how could the All-just One visit Job with such severe suffering, if he had not deserved it! Nevertheless אתה וישׁר זך אם (Job 8:6) shows that Bildad thinks it possible that Job's heart may be pure and upright, and consequently his present affliction may not be peremptory punishment, but only disciplinary chastisement. Job just - such is Bildad's counsel - give God glory, and acknowledge that he deserves nothing better; and thus humbling himself beneath the just hand of God, he will be again made righteous, and exalted.

Job cannot, however, comprehend his suffering as an act of divine justice. His own fidelity is a fact, his consciousness of which cannot be shaken: it is therefore impossible for him to deny it, for the sake of affirming the justice of God; for truth is not to be supported by falsehood. Hence Bildad's glorious promises afford Job no comfort. Apart from their being awkwardly introduced, they depend upon an assumption, the truth of which Job cannot admit without being untrue to himself. Consequently Bildad, though with the best intention, only urges Job still further forward and deeper into the conflict.

But does, then, the confession of sin on the part of constantly sinful man admit of his regarding the suffering thus appointed to him not merely not as punishment, but also not as chastisement? If a sufferer acknowledges the excessive hideousness of sin, how can he, when a friend bids him regard his affliction as a wholesome chastisement designed to mortify sin more and more, - how can he receive the counsel with such impatience as we see in the case of Job? The utterances of Job are, in fact, so wild, inconsiderate, and unworthy of God, and the first speeches of Eliphaz and Bildad on the contrary so winning and appropriate, that if Job's affliction ought really to be regarded from the standpoint of chastisement, their tone could not be more to the purpose, nor exhortation and comfort more beautifully blended. Even when one knows the point of the book, one will still be constantly liable to be misled by the speeches of the friends; it requires the closest attention to detect what is false in them. The poet's mastery of his subject, and the skill with which he exercises it, manifests itself in his allowing the opposition of the friends to Job, though existing in the germ from the very beginning, to become first of all in the course of the controversy so harsh that they look upon Job as a sinner undergoing punishment from God, while in opposition to them he affirms his innocence, and challenges a decision from God.

The poet, however, allows Bildad to make one declaration, from which we clearly see that his address, beautiful as it is, rests on a false basis, and loses its effect. Bildad explains the sudden death of Job's children as a divine judgment. He could not have sent a more wounding dart into Job's already broken heart; for is it possible to tell a man anything more heart-rending that that his father, his mother, or his children have died as the direct punishment of their sins? One would not say so, even if it should seem to be an obvious fact, and least of all to a father already sorely tried and brought almost to the grave with sorrow. Bildad, however, does not rely upon facts, he reasons only priori. He does not know that Job's children were godless; the only ground of his judgment is the syllogism: Whoever dies a fearful, sudden death must be a great sinner; God has brought Job's children to such a death; ergo, etc. Bildad is zealously affected for God, but without understanding. He is blind to the truth of experience, in order not to be drawn away from the truth of his premiss. He does not like to acknowledge anything that furnishes a contradiction to it. It is this same rationalism of superstition or credulity which has originated the false doctrine of the decretum absolutum. With the same icy and unfeeling rigorism with which Calvinism refers the divine rule, and all that happens upon earth, to the one principle of absolute divine will and pleasure, in spite of all the contradictions of Scripture and experience, Bildad refers everything to the principle of the divine justice, and indeed, divine justice in a judicial sense.

There is also another idea of justice beside this judicial one. Justice, צדקה or צדק, is in general God's dealings as ruled by His holiness. Now there is not only a holy will of God concerning man, which says, Be ye holy, for I am holy; but also a purpose for the redemption of unholy man springing from the holy love of God to man. Accordingly justice is either the agreement of God's dealings with the will of His holiness manifest in the demands of the law, apart from redemption, or the agreement of His dealings with the will of His love as graciously manifested in the gospel; in short, either retributive or redemptive. If one, as Bildad, in the first sense says, God never acts unjustly, and glaringly maintains it as universally applicable, the mystery of the divine dispensations is not made clear thereby, but destroyed. Thus also Job's suffering is no longer a mystery: Job suffers what he deserves; and if it cannot be demonstrated, it is to be assumed in contradiction to all experience. This view of his affliction does not suffice to pacify Job, in spite of the glorious promises by which it is set off. His conscience bears him witness that he has not merited such incomparably heavy affliction; and if we indeed suppose, what we must suppose, that Job was in favour with God when this suffering came upon him, then the thought that God deals with him according to his works, perhaps according to his unacknowledged sins, must be altogether rejected.

continued...

Job 9:4 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

wise in heart

Job 9:19 If I speak of strength, see, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?

Job 36:5 Behold, God is mighty, and despises not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom.

Psalm 104:24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! in wisdom have you made them all: the earth is full of your riches.

Psalm 136:5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endures for ever.

Daniel 2:20 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:

Daniel 4:34-37 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me...

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Ephesians 1:8,19 Wherein he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence...

Ephesians 3:10,20 To the intent that now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God...

Jude 1:24,25 Now to him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy...

who hath hardened

Job 6:10 Then should I yet have comfort; yes, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare...

Job 15:23-27 He wanders abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knows that the day of darkness is ready at his hand...

Job 40:9 Have you an arm like God? or can you thunder with a voice like him?

Exodus 9:14-17 For I will at this time send all my plagues on your heart, and on your servants, and on your people...

Exodus 14:17,18 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honor on Pharaoh...

Proverbs 28:14 Happy is the man that fears always: but he that hardens his heart shall fall into mischief.

Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Daniel 5:20-30 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne...

1 Corinthians 10:22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Cross References
2 Chronicles 13:12
Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed."

Job 9:19
If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty! If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?

Job 11:6
and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For he is manifold in understanding. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.

Job 12:13
"With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding.

Job 23:6
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me.

Job 24:22
Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power; they rise up when they despair of life.

Job 25:2
"Dominion and fear are with God; he makes peace in his high heaven.

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