1 Then Job answered and said:
2 “How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?
3 These ten times you have cast reproach upon me;
are you not ashamed to wrong me?
4 And even if it be true that I have erred,
my error remains with myself.
5 If indeed you magnify yourselves against me
and make my disgrace an argument against me,
6 know then that God has put me in the wrong
and closed his net about me.
7 Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered;
I call for help, but there is no justice.
8 He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass,
and he has set darkness upon my paths.
9 He has stripped from me my glory
and taken the crown from my head.
10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.
11 He has kindled his wrath against me
and counts me as his adversary.
12 His troops come on together;
they have cast up their siege ramp against me
and encamp around my tent.
13 “He has put my brothers far from me,
and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me.
14 My relatives have failed me,
my close friends have forgotten me.
15 The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger;
I have become a foreigner in their eyes.
16 I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer;
I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy.
17 My breath is strange to my wife,
and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.
18 Even young children despise me;
when I rise they talk against me.
19 All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
20 My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
21 Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
22 Why do you, like God, pursue me?
Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?
23 “Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
28 If you say, ‘How we will pursue him!’
and, ‘The root of the matter is found in him,’
29 be afraid of the sword,
for wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
that you may know there is a judgment.” – Job 19:1-29 ESV
Job’s response to Bildad echoes his earlier speeches and continues to reflect his unwillingness to concede defeat or confess his innocence. He is worn out and begs his friends to show him some mercy to balance out their relentless attacks.
“How long will you torture me?
How long will you try to crush me with your words?
You have already insulted me ten times.
You should be ashamed of treating me so badly.” – Job 19:2-3 NLT
Their better-than-thou approach to counseling has left Job feeling beaten down rather than lifted up. Their constant displays of moral superiority and self-righteous certainty have done more damage than good.
“Even if I have sinned,
that is my concern, not yours.
You think you’re better than I am,
using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.” – Job 19:4-5 NLT
And Job reminds them once again that his real adversary is God. He is the one behind all his pain and misery.
“God has blocked my way so I cannot move.
He has plunged my path into darkness.
He has stripped me of my honor
and removed the crown from my head.
He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished.” – Job 19:8-10 NLT
In the midst of all his pain, abandoned by family and friends, Job begs Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz to show him a bit of compassion.
“Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy,
for the hand of God has struck me.
Must you also persecute me, like God does?
Haven’t you chewed me up enough?” – Job 19:21-22 NLT
Then suddenly, as if a light switch was turned on in a darkened room, Job makes this incredibly optimistic statement.
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!” – Job 19:25-26 NLT
Job is suffering inexplicably and unexpectedly. He is being relentlessly attacked and accused by his friends for his apparent wickedness. Yet, he is somehow able to cry out, “I know that my Redeemer lives!”
What is he saying? At the least, he is expressing belief in a God who will one day vindicate him and prove him to be innocent. He holds out hope that his sufferings are not the result of sin and are not some form of divine punishment for wrongs done. Job knows that he will be redeemed in the end. He may die, but he will stand before the Lord with a new body and be innocent of any wrongdoing.
The word Job uses for “Redeemer” is גָּאַל (ga’al, “to redeem, protect, vindicate”). Listen to what the Net Bible study notes have to say about this rich word:
“The word is well-known in the OT because of its identification as the kinsman-redeemer (see the Book of Ruth). This is the near kinsman who will pay off one’s debts, defend the family, avenge a killing, marry the widow of the deceased. The word ‘redeemer’ evokes the wrong connotation for people familiar with the NT alone; a translation of ‘Vindicator’ would capture the idea more. The concept might include the description of the mediator already introduced in Job 16:19, but surely here Job is thinking of God as his vindicator. The interesting point to be stressed here is that Job has said clearly that he sees no vindication in this life, that he is going to die. But he knows he will be vindicated, and even though he will die, his vindicator lives. The dilemma remains though: his distress lay in God’s hiding his face from him, and his vindication lay only in beholding God in peace.”
In the face of the unrelenting onslaught of his friends’ accusations, Job is anxious for someone to vindicate him (to clear, as from an accusation, imputation, suspicion, or the like: to vindicate someone’s honor). He longs to have someone stand up for him and he knows that the only one who can and will do so is God Himself.
His friends seem unwilling to show him mercy, so Job is left with God alone as his future source of hope and restoration. He has resigned himself with his pending death but he believes that he will stand before God one day with a new body and a clean record.
“I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!” – Job 19:27 NLT
Job was able to face death because he placed his hope in the reality of eternity. In his desperate situation, his only recourse was to trust in a God who would one day redeem him and restore him. As bad as his life was, Job could face it only because of his belief in God and his hope in an eternal destiny.
So what about us? How do we face the trials and tests of life? Where do we focus our attention? Yes, Job was fully aware of his suffering. He was not living some Pollyanna dream where he refused to face reality. He was in pain. He was hurting. But he kept going back to the only thing he could trust – God.
There was a lot he didn’t understand about God and his own circumstances, but he did know that God was just, righteous, and merciful. He also held on to his fragile belief that there was more to life than the here and now. He had to keep believing that there was a future life ahead of him and it was there that his vindication would be complete. His honor would be restored. Even his body would be renewed. It was that belief that kept Job going in the face of extreme difficulty. And we have the same hope.
We have a Redeemer who will one day vindicate us. He will welcome us into His presence as righteous and completely sinless. We will have restored bodies and hearts that are free from sin. And in the last part of Job’s statement, I think we get a glimpse of the future reality of Christ’s triumphant return to earth as the conquering Messiah. “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last” (Job 19:25 NLT).
There is a day coming when Jesus Christ will return to earth, not to suffer and die, but to rule, restore, and reign. That is our hope. That is our future. That is why we can cry out along with Job, “I know my Redeemer lives!”
He will set all things right. He will vindicate and avenge His own. And we will be revealed to be what we have always claimed to be: God’s children.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.