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"I Would Present My Case Before Him" (Job 23-24) March 25-26

Job does not answer Eliphaz's outrageous charges. Instead, he groans and wishes he could go to God and present his case before Him. In verse 5, the phrase "I would know the words which He would answer me" means "I would like to know His answer."

In contrast to Eliphaz's apparent contention that God did not really care whether Job was innocent (see 22:1-3), Job is convinced that God did care and that if he could reason with God, then he would at last be delivered.

While Job cannot travel about to find God, he realizes that God, in contrast, knows exactly where to find him because God is putting him through his current trial (verses 8-10). Job's point in verse 10 about emerging from God's test as gold compares to similar imagery in later passages where the purification of gold and silver are used to typify trials refining God's people (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:20; Psalm 66:10; Isaiah 48:10; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12; Revelation 3:18). However, in Job 23:10 it is not clear if Job is saying that his current trial will burn away his impurities leaving only gold, or pure character, remaining—or if he means that the test will reveal him as having had pure character all along. The latter seems more likely since, in the next two verses, he states that he has not departed from God's commandments (indirectly refuting Eliphaz's charges).

The precise meaning of Job 24:1 is debated. The phrase "Since times are not hidden from the Almighty" could also be rendered "Why are times not stored up [or reserved] by the Almighty?" The point of the entire verse might be: "Why does God not reserve particular times or days and make His servants aware of them?" These times could refer to God setting days for holding court or to meet with His servants in need (in conjunction with Job's desire in chapter 23 to appear before God). Alternatively, the times could refer to set periods of judgment (to deal with the sinners Job describes in 24:2-17).

It seems that Job's concern for his own unjust suffering has sparked the thought about the broader issue that many innocent people in the world are made to suffer at the hands of sinners who themselves do not have to pay for their crimes. How is that fair?

Verses 18-25 are disputed. Note how the New King James Version has added the italicized word "should" a number of times in verses 18 and 20. Without this, the verses are statements of fact concerning the fate of the wicked, as other versions render them. Many, including the NKJV editors, do not think Job would be saying that the wicked will get theirs, as this seems not to fit in context and agrees too much with his friends' argument. However, Job could well be noting that the wicked will eventually receive punishment in the end—and is just upset that they seem to get off scot-free until then. Others see him as pronouncing a curse on the wicked here (because God doesn't seem willing to) or stating what God should do as in the NKJV. Verses 22-24 may refer to not just the wicked but all men ultimately being brought low, seeming to show that God uses His power arbitrarily.

There is so much wickedness—so much of man hurting his fellow man. Why does God let it go on? Why doesn't He bring immediate judgment? Why do the innocent have to suffer at the hands of cruel and wicked men? Why does God Himself bring terrible suffering on Job, who is innocent? This is the essence of what Job wants to understand in this passage—the case he would bring before God.

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