2 “As God lives, who has taken away my right,
and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
3 as long as my breath is in me,
and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
4 my lips will not speak falsehood,
and my tongue will not utter deceit.
5 Far be it from me to say that you are right;
till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
6 I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;
my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.
7 “Let my enemy be as the wicked,
and let him who rises up against me be as the unrighteous.
8 For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off,
when God takes away his life?
9 Will God hear his cry
when distress comes upon him?
10 Will he take delight in the Almighty?
Will he call upon God at all times?
11 I will teach you concerning the hand of God;
what is with the Almighty I will not conceal.
12 Behold, all of you have seen it yourselves;
why then have you become altogether vain?
13 “This is the portion of a wicked man with God,
and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty:
14 If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword,
and his descendants have not enough bread.
15 Those who survive him the pestilence buries,
and his widows do not weep.
16 Though he heap up silver like dust,
and pile up clothing like clay,
17 he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it,
and the innocent will divide the silver.
18 He builds his house like a moth’s,
like a booth that a watchman makes.
19 He goes to bed rich, but will do so no more;
he opens his eyes, and his wealth is gone.
20 Terrors overtake him like a flood;
in the night a whirlwind carries him off.
21 The east wind lifts him up and he is gone;
it sweeps him out of his place.
22 It hurls at him without pity;
he flees from its power in headlong flight.
23 It claps its hands at him
and hisses at him from its place.” – Job 27:1-23 ESV
In this follow-up to his previous response to Bildad, Job takes all three of his friends to task. In Hebrew, his use of the word “you” is in the plural form and he repeats it several times.
“I will never concede that you are right;
I will defend my integrity until I die.” – Job 27:5 NLT
“I will teach you about God’s power.
I will not conceal anything concerning the Almighty.
But you have seen all this,
yet you say all these useless things to me.” – Job 27:11-12 NLT
Job has reached the end of his patience and wants Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar to know that he will never give in to their demands that he confess his sin. In fact, the first six verses of this speech are his unequivocal claim of innocence, and he backs it up by a vow or oath that is based on the very existence of God.
“As surely as God lives,” Job begins. The existence of God is undeniable and irrefutable, and on that basis, Job declares that his innocence is just as sure and steadfast. His steadfast belief in his innocence was as firm as his belief in the existence of God. Even the life-altering nature of his fall had not shaken his belief in God. Yes, he had plenty of questions he wanted to direct to God, but he had never questioned God’s existence. And he was willing to take unwavering belief in his own righteousness to the grave. No amount of pressure from his three friends was going to change his mind or shatter his faith in his own integrity.
“I will never say that you are right; I will maintain my integrity until I die. I will cling to my righteousness and never let go. As long as I live, my conscience will not accuse me.” – Job 27:5-6 BSB
Job was so insistent because he refused to place himself within the company of the wicked. For him, that was unthinkable because it would be a virtual death sentence. His view of the fate of the wicked was dark and hopeless. He flatly states, “what hope do the godless have when God cuts them off and takes away their life?” (Job 27:8 NLT). Their fate is sealed because they will fall into the hands of the righteous Judge of the universe. No amount of regret or remorse will change their future because God will not listen to their cries or defer His judgment.
“Will God listen to their cry
when trouble comes upon them?
Can they take delight in the Almighty?
Can they call to God at any time?” – Job 27:9-10 NLT
Job’s questions are rhetorical and have only one answer.: “No!” One day, as they face their inevitable judgment, the wicked of this world will see the error of their ways and attempt to make things right with God, but it will be too little, too late. Job is not describing true repentance or what we might call “saving faith.” He is talking about those who live their entire lives in opposition to the will of God and then, at death, when facing their just and righteous judgment, try to escape their fate by a sudden death-bed display of godliness. It won’t work, asserts Job.
The most surprising aspect of Job’s assessment of the fate of the wicked is that he hopes his three friends will experience it.
“May my enemy be like the wicked and my opponent like the unjust.” – Job 27:7 BSB
This statement appears harsh and unjustified to the modern reader but it was a common rhetorical device in Job’s day. This over-the-top denunciation of his three friends was meant to accentuate the unjust nature of their false accusations of him.
King David uses a similar style of imprecatation when dealing with his own false accusers.
O God, whom I praise,
don’t stand silent and aloof
while the wicked slander me
and tell lies about me.
They surround me with hateful words
and fight against me for no reason.
I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations
even as I am praying for them! – Psalm 109:1-4 NLT
These “friends” of David were not only guilty of slandering him but were going out of their way to ruin his reputation and life.
They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him.
Send an accuser to bring him to trial.
When his case comes up for judgment,
let him be pronounced guilty.
Count his prayers as sins.” – Psalm 109:6-7 NLT
David provides a shocking list of their prayers for his downfall and they are unsparing in their desire to see him completely humiliated and ruined, not only for life, but for eternity.
“May all his offspring die.
May his family name be blotted out in the next generation.
May the Lord never forget the sins of his fathers;
may his mother’s sins never be erased from the record.” – Psalm 109:13-14 NLT
So, David responds with a prayer of his own.
May those curses become the Lord’s punishment
for my accusers who speak evil of me. – Psalm 109:20 NLT
Again, those kinds of words seem out of place and unacceptable for a child of God to pray. But they are a common form of rhetorical argument among all the semitic people groups. In those days, a man’s name was considered sacred and an extension of his very nature. That is why false accusations were taken so seriously and dealt with so harshly. One of the commands in the Decalogue dealt with this very issue.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:18 ESV
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses outlines a further extension of this law, providing legal judgment concerning anyone who made a libelous accusation against another.
“If the accuser has brought false charges against his fellow Israelite, you must impose on the accuser the sentence he intended for the other person. In this way, you will purge such evil from among you.” – Deuteronomy 19:18-19 NLT
In a sense, this is what Job was calling for. He wanted the slanderous accusations of his three friends to have consequences. In his mind, they were attempting to ruin his name and tarnish his reputation amongst his neighbors. In Job’s case, the integrity of his name was all he had left and the malicious words of his three accusers were robbing him of even that.
Job’s anger is understandable. He has been through a lot and the attacks of his three friends have been relentless. It’s likely that these discussions did not take place in private but were conducted in front of an audience of Job’s peers. Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar had put their friend on trial. They probably sought evidence against Job by interviewing his neighbors. To bolster their case, they would have conducted pre-trial research and found individuals willing to testify against Job. The meteoric fall of Job would have been known to all in Uz, but the presence of the three friends would have fired up the rumor mill and stirred up all kinds of speculation concerning Job’s fate.
So, weighed down by his pain and suffering and angered by the destruction of his reputation among his neighbors and friends, Job lashed out. He couldn’t help but wish that his three friends would have their own words turned against them. It was only just and right in his mind that his false accusers suffer some kind of consequences for their actions, and his assessment was right in line with the will of God.
“Be sure never to charge anyone falsely with evil. Never sentence an innocent or blameless person to death, for I never declare a guilty person to be innocent.” – Exodus 23:7 NLT
Job was convinced of his own innocence, so his friends must be guilty of slander. It was a simple as that. His friends had been adamant that God punishes the wicked, and Job fully agreed. But in Job’s mind, the roles were reversed. They were the guilty ones and fully liable to the wrath of God. Their righteous-sounding rhetoric would not save them. Their claims of godly wisdom wouldn’t protect them. They had ruined Job’s name and they would pay dearly for their crime.
“Terror overwhelms them like a flood,
and they are blown away in the storms of the night.
The east wind carries them away, and they are gone.
It sweeps them away.” – Job 27:20-21 NLT
These verses are difficult to read and reconcile. But Job was desperately trying to protect and preserve the only thing of value that remained: His name. Without a good name, he had nothing. His future was ruined and his legacy was utterly destroyed. But the only way he could restore his soiled reputation was by having God step in and declare him innocent. He knew that only God could provide a just and righteous verdict in this case and he longed for that day to come.
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.