Job 16 Commentary

Job’s reply to Eliphaz (16:1-17:16)

Tired at this repetition of the friends’ unhelpful teaching, Job says he could give similar ‘comfort’ if he were in their position and they in his (16:1-5). His argument with God may not have brought relief


from his pain, but neither has his silence. In fact, his physical condition only becomes worse (6-8). God opposes him and people insult him. Some deliberately try to do him harm (9-11). He feels like a helpless victim that wild animals attack, like a target that archers fire at, like a weak city wall that enemy soldiers smash to pieces (12-14). He mourns and suffers, though he is innocent (15-17).

For a moment Job’s faith grows strong again despite his bitter anguish. His innocent blood has been spilt on the earth, and he asks the earth to cry to heaven that justice might be done on his behalf (18). He believes he has a heavenly witness who knows he is not guilty of the wrongdoing of which people accuse him (19-21). Although he is confident that this witness hears his cries and affirms his innocence, he nevertheless fears that he is on the way to his death (22-17:2).

Job asks God himself to guarantee that in the end he will be declared righteous. He has given up expecting any understanding from those who have closed their minds to reason. He feels they have betrayed him (3-5). Job is sad that he, a godly person, must suffer such pain and insults, but his sufferings make him the more determined to do right and oppose wrong (6-9).

As he returns to consider the so-called comfort of his friends, Job becomes discouraged again. There is no wisdom in what any of them say (10). It is useless for them to try to comfort him by saying that the night of suffering will soon be past and a new day of joy will dawn. He expects only the greater darkness of death (11-16).

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