the final speech of Job covers six chapters, we provide the following
structure to help the reader follow it:
Job (9) Part 1: Attack - Rebuke of the ‘friends' for only God
knows the truth'
Job (9) Part 2: Defence -
Job's Personal Integrity
& the fate of his enemies
Job (9) Part 3: Interlude:
Where Wisdom is Found
Job (9) Part 4: The Past
- Job looks back almost nostalgically
Job (9) Part 5: The
Present - Roles Reversed & a Resultant Wreck
(9) Part 6: Final Defence - Job's Final Words of Self-Vindication
Job 31: Job's Final Words of Self-Vindication
Comments: In this remarkable final chapter of Job's speeches,
the word ‘if' occurs nineteen times, each one in respect of possibility
of a sin that Job has been careful to avoid. Earlier he has protested
his innocence and in this final chapter he goes to great lengths
to expound on his righteousness. He does it by denying a whole
series of potential sins and invokes a curse on himself if he
has been dishonest in respect of any of them. We will summarise
them at the end.]
He protests purity in his looking
a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.
For what is
our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high?
Is it not
ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong?
he not see my ways and count my every step?
He protests honesty & integrity
I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried
God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless—
my steps have turned from the path, if
my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands
have been defiled,
may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted.
He protests faithfulness to his wife.
my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if
I have lurked at my neighbor's door,
then may my
wife grind another man's grain, and may other men sleep with her.
For that would
have been wicked, a sin to be judged.
is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my
He protests right dealings with his servants
I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether
male or female, when they had a grievance against me,
will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called
Did not he
who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us
both within our mothers?
He protests his care for the poor and needy
I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes
of the widow grow weary,
I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with
but from my
youth I reared them as a father would, and from my birth I guided
I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or
the needy without garments,
their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece
from my sheep,
I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing
that I had influence in court,
then let my
arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint.
I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I
could not do such things.
He protests he has rejected avarice or idolatry
I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You
are my security,'
I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my
hands had gained,
I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon
moving in splendor,
so that my
heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of
also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful
to God on high.
He protests his good attitude towards enemies & strangers
I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated
over the trouble that came to him—
I have not
allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against their life—
those of my household have never said, ‘Who has not
been filled with Job's meat?'—
but no stranger
had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open
to the traveler—
He protests his integrity in respect of personal sins
I have concealed my sin as people do, by hiding my guilt
in my heart
I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans
that I kept silent and would not go outside—
that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense—let the Almighty
answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing.
I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown.
I would give
him an account of my every step; I would present it to him as
to a ruler.)—
He protests his honesty with his tenants
my land cries out against me and all its furrows are
wet with tears,
I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the
spirit of its tenants,
let briers come up instead of wheat and stinkweed instead of barley.”
The words of Job are ended.
Comments: So how
has Job vindicated himself in this chapter? He
has denied sinning in respect of:
the way he looks
at young women [v.1-4],
his general honesty
and integrity [v.5-8],
towards his wife [v.9-12],
his dealings with
his servants [v.13-15],
his care for the
poor and needy [v.16-23],
of avarice and idolatry [v.24-28],
towards enemies and strangers [v.29-32],
in respect of personal sins [v.33-37]
his honesty towards
his tenants [v.38-40]
all these ways he seeks to bolster his righteousness before his
three friends and deny the various accusations he has received
from them. With this we come to the end of the interaction between
Job and his three friends.]