Job 19:1-2. Then, Job answered and said, How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?
They struck at him with their hard words, as if they were breaking stones on the roadside. We ought to be very careful what we say to those who are suffering affliction and trial, for a word, though it seems to be a very little thing, will often cut far more deeply and wound far more terribly than a razor would. So Job says, “How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?”
Job 19:3. These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.
He means that they had reproached him several times over, and hints that they ought to have been ashamed to act so strangely, so coldly, so untenderly, towards him.
Job 19:4. And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.
“I have done you no harm. The error, if error there be, is within my own bosom, for you cannot find anything in my life to lay to my charge.” Happy is the man who can say as much as that.
Job 19:5-6. If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach: Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.
Job seems to say, “I did not bring this trouble upon myself; it is God who has laid it upon me. Take heed lest, in reproaching me because of my trouble, you should reproach God also. “I suppose that we cannot, all of us, see into the inner meaning of these words, but if we are in very sore trouble, and those who ought to comfort us are bringing cruel accusations against us, we shall read the language of Job with no small sympathy and satisfaction.
Job 19:7. Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.
Poor Job! When our prayer is not heard, or we think it is not, then the clouds above us are dark indeed. You who are passing through a season of unanswered prayer, do not imagine that you are the first to traverse that dreary way! You can see the footprints of others on that desolate sandy shore. Job knew what that experience meant, so did David, and so did our blessed Lord. Read the 2nd verse of the 22nd Psalm, and hear Jesus say, “O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.”
Job 19:8. He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.
God had done this, and done it to Job, whom he called “a perfect and an upright man.” Then, how can you and I expect to escape trial and difficulty when such a man as the patriarch of Uz found his road blocked up, and darkness all around him?
Job 19:9-10. He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.
That is, torn up by the roots, and carried down the stream, to be forgotten by the people who once knew it, and rejoiced in its welcome shade.
Job 19:11. He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies.
Does God ever act like that towards his own children? Yes; there are times when, without any anger in his heart, but with designs of love toward them, he treats his children, outwardly, as if he were an enemy to them. See the gardener going up to that beautiful tree. He takes out a sharp knife, feels its edge to be sure that it is keen, and then he begins pruning it here, gashing it there, and making it to bleed in another place, as if he were going to cut it all to pieces. Yet all that is not because he has any anger against the tree, but, on the contrary, because he greatly values it, and wishes it to bring forth more fruit than it has ever done. Do not think that God’s sharpest knife means death to his loved ones; it means more life, and richer, fuller life.
Job 19:12. His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.
Troops of trouble, troops of Chaldeans and Sabeans, troops in which Job counted the stormy winds as terrible allies of the Most High, — all these had come up against Job, and he seemed to be like a country that is beaten down and devoured by powerful invaders.
Job 19:13. He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.
He looks on those so-called “friends” of his, and, remembering the bitter things they had said, he tells them that they are estranged from him.
Job 19:14-15. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.
What a long way a child of God may be permitted to go in trouble! Ah, brethren! we do not know how those, who are most dear to God’s heart, may suffer all the more for that very reason: “for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”
Job 19:16-17. I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I entreated him with my mouth. My breath is strange to my wife, though I entreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.
He mentioned to his wife those whom death had taken away, and asked her to speak kindly to him; but even she had hard words to throw in his teeth.
Job 19:18-20. Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
There is no skin upon the teeth, or scarcely any, and, therefore, Job means that there was next to nothing of him left, like the skin of his teeth.
Job 19:21. Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
How pitiful it is that he has thus to beg for sympathy! This strong man —this most patient man — this perfect and upright man before God has to ask for sympathy. Do you wonder that it was so? HE, who was far greater than Job, ran back thrice to his sleeping disciples as if he needed some help from them, yet he found it not, for he had to say to them, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour? “Let this be a lesson to us to try and possess bowels of compassion towards those who are in sorrow and distress.
Job 19:22. Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
“If God smites me, why do you, who are round about me, do the same? Is it not enough that God seems to be turned against me? Why should you also be my enemies?”
Job 19:23-24. Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
Inscriptions have been found, graven in the rocks, that may have been done in the time of Job, and it was common, in ancient days, to write on tablets of lead or brass; so Job desired that what he was saying might be recorded for future reference, for he was persuaded that he was being hardly dealt with, and unjustly judged.
Job 19:25. For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
“For I know,” What a splendid burst of confidence this is, right out of the depth of his sorrow, like some wondrous star that suddenly blazes upon the brow of the blackest night, or like the sudden rising of the morning sun!
Job 19:26-28. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?
Job seems to say, speaking about himself, though in the third person, “He is a devout man, can you not see that? He has faith in God, my friends, can you not perceive that? Wherefore, then, do you persecute him so?”
Job 19:29. Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.
Now Job carries the war into the enemy’s camp; and he says, “You charge me with all sorts of sin, und yet you cannot deny that the root of the matter is in me. Would it not be much wiser for you to be yourselves afraid lest God should cut you off for falsely accusing me, and slandering me, in the time of my sorrow? “There we may confidently leave Job for the man who can truly say what he has said about his Redeemer, will come out all right at the last.