Job 19, Exegetical Notes from Abner Chou

You can’t know how God is using trials because you aren’t God—you can’t put the puzzle together—but you can start from the corners and the bigger pieces. Job establishes those major puzzle pieces so that when you look at your life, everything else will fall into place. Job can’t solve the particulars, but it gives you that framework.

Job uses a series of causes and effects that should go together but none of them happen for Job. He is the perfect example of why a closed system can still be a broken system.

Job 19

Job responds to Bildad who said that everything is a system and Job is just an animal. But the Internal Causation Scheme works great until one unit breaks. Like a car. It should work; but if it breaks, then the system doesn’t work like it “should,” as you would expect according to internal causation. Nothing in life is that closed and perfect. You can’t put life in a test-tube. For example, science itself can’t understand all of life because it lacks complexity; it can’t handle everything. What causes cancer? Everything! We can’t test every single thing, so we can’t know all the causes. These are epistemological problems.

Job is just trying to show the exceptions to the systems to prove the flaw of Bildad’s closed system.

Job 19:2-3

His friends have exhausted him with their words

Job 19:4

The error is inside of me, so what does that have to do with you? Why should they care if this is just internal causes on Job’s heart and life. But they do, which proves their error, which is why Job’s vexed.

Job 19:5-6

Major problem with the idea. God. God is the proof against a closed system. The supernatural is super. It’s the ultimate exception. They can’t contain the complexity of the real world so their system is closed-minded.

Closed his net around me—this is an allusion back to Bildad’s argument (that Job has trapped himself in Job 18:8)—but here Job says, No, it was God. The cause of my suffering is more than just my internal causes in this closed system; it’s because of God.

Job 19:7

Job’s primary example: the brokenness of the system. Job cries out and no one is helping him.

Job 19:8

God is the one who has trapped Job.

Job 19:9

God takes away Job’s honor. God can change causation

Job 19:10

He takes away Job’s strength.

Job 19:11-12

God has made war on Job

Job 19:13-15

Job shows the breakdown of the system like peeling an onion, from the outside in of our expectations about life and society.

My family and friends don’t come to me, but they should, so it shows the brokenness of their system.

Job 19:16

Servants usually respond to masters, but that’s broken too.

Job 19:17

Even if you have bad breath, your wife should love you and help you with a tic-tac. But here even the fact that he’s breathing is offensive to his wife. That is a total reversal and breakdown of the system.

I am loathsome to the “sons of my womb,” the most immediate family. Blood brothers. The deepest bonds have become undone and that’s not part of how the system works…unless God intervenes.

Job 19:18

Children should be stoned for that in that honor/shame society, but even that has broken.

Job 19:19

His closest friends have left him (he’s slapping his friends in the face). Even the fact that they are there is proof.

Job 19:20-22

He is a corpse that is rotting away. He’s calling them to have pity on them—he shouldn’t have to say that.

Job 19:23-29

Job has proven that this system is absolutely broken, and so now he proposes a new one.

Commentators are confused here.

Job is speaking emotionally. So what does the word “know” mean? He hasn’t used that phrase “I know” yet in the discourse, and he wouldn’t use that lightly.

Is Job 19:25 a wish statement or an assertion of knowledge? Chou thinks this is the latter, something deep within his soul.

How does he know and why isn’t he consistent with this? Because he is emotional and he is speaking out of emotions, but here is going back to the central truth he knows deep down—that God is right and He will do what is right. Job knows the DR principle is wrong, and that somehow both he and God are both right. Job knows they need a new system (where both of them are right), and that demands, in his mind, a redeemer—someone who has the buying power to make something right. He knows there is someone in heaven who has the buying power to set this thing right. It’s eschatological language; Job is projecting beyond death itself. He knows there will only be resolve in the end.

But Job doesn’t know who this person is, how He will conquer and redeem. He doesn’t know how but he knows what. Life has taught him.

Job wants a new system which is final, eschatological and eternal. It is a system that transcends time and space.

Job 19:25

What does “Redeem” mean?

Rescue emphasizes the overcome against all the odds to redeem, Salvation refers to the intervention that is required to redeem, redemption refers to both the sacrificial demand for that kind of rescue (how much is it going to take), as well as the transformation of circumstance. That’s the key. The transformation of circumstance.

Job 19:26

Job’s skin is a symbol for his body and life. He’s referring to a time in the future when his flesh will rot, and yet he knows from his flesh he will see God (hinting at a resurrection). “from my flesh” is privitive, which means separation. When he is separated away from his flesh, he will see God.

“see” God is the same word from Isa 6, the same word of visions. It’s a term of supernatural encounter, not just a random eye-witness event.

Job 19:27

Job is trying to see God for himself. The outcome he wants for this is that everything will change for Job, for himself. Job won’t just see God but will have an intimate relationship with Him. “Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not a stranger.”

Down into his inner soul, he faints. It’s too good to be true. He has that kind of assurance.

Job 19:29

If Bildad says what goes around comes around, then he should be scared because, ironically, for him, it does.