English of the Septuagint: For he knows already my way; and he has tried me as gold.
Amplified: But He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
BBE: For he has knowledge of the way I take; after I have been tested I will come out like gold.
KJV: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
NJB: And yet he knows every step I take! Let him test me in the crucible: I shall come out pure gold.
Young's Literal: For He hath known the way with me, He hath tried me--as gold I go forth.
JOB: AN ANCIENT BOOK
Although there are no specific dates given in Job, this book is considered by most authorities to be one of the oldest books in the Bible. This conclusion based on several observations, including the fact that there is no mention of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc) and no mention of God's covenant nation Israel. Similarly, there is no mention of the Ten Commandments or for that matter any of the Mosaic laws. Although there are clearly discourses dealing with sin and judgment, reward and punishment, these discussions are never in the context of the Old Covenant laws. Clearly God had communicated His standards of righteousness somehow with the pre-Mosaic world for in Genesis God declares that
Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws. (Genesis 26:5)
And so clearly long before Moses, God had given (the exact manner is uncertain) commandments and laws, and Abraham had obeyed them. Similarly we read in the passages we are studying Job's testimony that…
I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12)
Job’s friends also were aware of God's law, for Eliphaz urged Job…
Please receive instruction from His mouth, And establish His words in your heart. (Job 22:22)
Another clue that Job is one of the most ancient of books is the absence of any allusions to idolatry, suggesting that Job antedated the drift that occurred in the early nations toward idolatry after the dispersion at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Clearly all of the major characters in Job believed in the God of creation, which would support the early date of this book.
Related Resource: Highly Recommended - Overview of the entire book of Job by Dr John Piper - with special emphasis on the topic of suffering - you will be challenged, edified and equipped by this series which I was privileged to hear in person in October, 2008 - Job - When the Righteous Suffer Part 1, 2, and Q&A - consider watching the video if you have time
Henry Morris comments that…
quite a number of references in Job refer to the early events recorded in Genesis (for example, the creation, the fall, the flood, and the dispersion. A number of ancient tribes and places mentioned in Job such as the Sabeans, the Chaldeans, and Ophir tie into the Table of Nations (Genesis 10) or other early sections of Genesis, but none that characterize later periods.
Job lived 140 years after the events described in the book (Job 42:16). By figuring in the approximate number of years he lived prior to those events (the exact number is unknown, but at least enough to have ten grown children), we can place him in the time of the early patriarchs, perhaps around 2000 B.C. (Henry Morris. The Remarkable Record of Job. 1988)
Morris goes on to add this caveat on the "truths" in Job noting that…
many of the views expressed by Job contradict those of his friends, so both cannot be true. All the discourses are divinely inspired in the sense of being correctly reported, but they often illumine the faulty reasonings and attitudes of fallible human beings rather than the inerrant revelations of an infallible God. (Ibid)
Nevertheless, within the pages of one of the most ancient and fascinating books of the Bible, we find timeless words of wisdom by which we as New Testament believers can order our lives. In short, the purpose of these brief commentary notes is to attempt to glean clues as to how Job was able to endure such incredible trials. In short, we will look at Job 23:10, 11, 12 which give us considerable insight into…
JOB'S SECRET OF
We've all heard the term "role model" to describe an individual who serves as a an example to for others to emulate, imitate or follow, and such role models are especially important in the realm of our spiritual life. From a human perspective, Job is one of the best examples of perseverance or endurance recorded and it behooves us to study his life with the aim of imitating his example of endurance in trials. While all believers will experience trials and affliction, fortunately few of us will ever experience them to the degree that Job did. Nevertheless, his response and specifically his "secret of success" can be applied in all of our lives because suffering and trials are an expected "course" in our matriculation to greater and degrees of Christlikeness. So let us take a moment and ponder some of the principles that enabled this great man of God to hold on when it would have been so easy to have given in and given up. As someone said, it's always too soon to quit and Job helps us understand how we can experience the victorious Christian life even when circumstances might seem to dictate otherwise.
Listen to the advice of James…
As an example (see word study hupodeigma), brethren, of suffering and patience (see study makrothumia), take (aorist imperative = command to do this now! Don't delay! Do it effectively!) the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed (see study of root word for blessed - makarios) who endured. You have heard of the endurance (see study of hupomone) of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:10-11)
Matthew Henry comments on James 5:10-11: Observe here, The prophets, on whom God put the greatest honour, and for whom he had the greatest favour, were most afflicted: and, when we think that the best men have had the hardest usage in this world, we should hereby be reconciled to affliction. Observe further, Those who were the greatest examples of suffering affliction were also the best and greatest examples of patience: tribulation produces patience (Ro 5:3, 4-notes Ro 5:3; 5:4).
Hereupon James gives it to us as the common sense of the faithful (v11): We count those happy who endure: we look upon righteous and patient sufferers as the happiest people. (See related thought in James 1:2-note; Jas 1:3 4-note Jas 1:5 6-note Jas 1:7 8-note Jas 1:9 10 11-note Jas 1:12-note).
Job is proposed as an example for the encouragement of the afflicted… In the case of Job you have an instance of a variety of miseries,… (which) were very grievous, but under all he could bless God, and, as to the general bent of his spirit, he was patient and humble: and what came to him in the end? Why, truly, God accomplished and brought about those things for him which plainly prove that the Lord is very filled with pity (sympathetic sorrow for one suffering) and tender mercy.
The best way to bear afflictions is to look to the end of them; and the pity of God is such that He will not delay the bringing of them to an end when His purposes are once answered; and the tender mercy of God is such that He will make His people an abundant amends (to put right, rectify, change for the better) for all their sufferings and afflictions. His bowels (= he seat of pity or kindness; hence, tenderness, compassion - see study of splagchnon) are moved for them while suffering, his bounty is manifested afterwards. Let us serve our God, and endure our trials, as those who believe the end will crown all.
The writer of Hebrews emphasizes the importance of role models writing that…
we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (He 6:11, 12-see notes He 6:11; 12)
From the truth about Job in James and this exhortation in Hebrews, it follows that believers today should be stimulated to study Job's life that we might imitate his example of faith and patience. The question arises then
"How did Job come to such a faith?
How was he able to endure such incredible affliction?"
We will look at Job's secret in the following discussion with the goal being to imitate his faith and endurance, that we too might be more than conquerors in this brief sojourn on earth. As we focus on the truths in Job 23:10-12, I think we will begin to understand Job's "secret inner strength". Study this section and see if you do not agree.
Before we begin and especially because we are "yanking" these passages out of context (which is always dangerous as it leaves one vulnerable to misinterpretation), let's review some important background truths to help understand Job 23:10-12.
First, it is vital to understand that contrary to the liberal misinterpretation that Job was a "mythical" character and not a historical figure, Scripture clearly states otherwise. We have already seen the single New Testament reference to Job as a historical individual. In addition, Ezekiel has two specific references to Job, both declarations by the Lord God Himself (which should thoroughly convince even a liberal interpreter that Job was a real, historical human being!) testifying to Ezekiel that…
even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves," declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 14:14, cp Ezek 14:20).
Second, notice that Job although clearly living before the Cross of Christ and His death, burial and resurrection, was nevertheless declared by the Lord God to be a righteous man. How is this possible in such an ancient book? Was Job righteous because he offered sacrifices or because he had not departed from the command of God's lips (cp Job 23:12-note)? Clearly the answer is he was not righteous because of his works, for no man is saved by works (eg, cp Ro 4:6-note) but only by grace through faith in the Messiah, the Way, the Truth and the Life, for no one comes to the Father but through the Door of the Messiah! (cp Ep 2:8, 9, 10 notes Ep 2:8; 2:9; 2:10, John 10:9, 14:6) We do not know exactly what Job knew about the Messiah but we do know that he was saved by faith in Him, as were all the Old Testament saints, Moses recording the supreme example of Abraham in Genesis writing that…
Then he (still called Abram at this time) believed (not a blind leap but a confident commitment to One about Whom abundant evidence bore ample testimony to Abram! Hebrew = 'Aman; Septuagint/LXX = pisteuo - word study) in the LORD (Jehovah = Jesus - see study of Jehovah); and He (God) reckoned (imputed, placed on his account; Hebrew = chashab; LXX = logizomai - word study) it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
Beloved, if you have not memorized this passage, then you should not go another day without doing so. The truths in this passage are so foundational that it is quoted three times in New Testament (Ro 4:3-note, Galatians 3:6 and Jas 2:23-note). It is fascinating that there are only five words in the Hebrew original of Genesis15:6, but what a wealth of meaning they contain especially the three key words believe, reckoned, and righteousness. It takes three NT chapters to unpack this single verse!
As an aside note what Paul adds that…
the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU." (Galatians 3:8)
THE CONTEXT OF THE BOOK OF JOB
Now let's briefly establish the context of the book of Job one of the books normally classified as poetic literature.
J. Sidlow Baxter has a general statement about the poetic books noting that…
These books portray real human experience, and grapple with profound problems, and express big realities. Especially do they concern themselves with the experiences of the godly, in the varying vicissitudes of this changeful life which is ours under the sun. Moreover, experiences which are here dealt with were permitted to come to men in order that they might be as guides for the godly ever afterward. These experiences are here recorded and interpreted for us by the Spirit of inspiration through “holy men of old” who spoke and wrote “as they were moved” by Him. Thus, in these poetical books we have a most precious treasury of spiritual truth. (Explore the Book)
Irving Jensen has an excellent summation of the poetic books…
Here is the chapter and verse outline…
Job 1:1-2:13 gives the prologue -- the trials allowed by God but wrought by Satan and the trust of Job (Job 1:21).
Job 3:1-26 describes Job's despair.
Job 4:1-38:41 record the dialogue between Job and his four counselors
3 Cycles = Job 4:1-14:22, Job 15:1-21:34, Job 22:1-31:40 and one set of 4 speeches by Elihu in Job 32:1-37:24, followed by God's challenge to Job - Job 38:1-41:34.
Job 42:1-17 is the epilogue in which Job receives a new revelation from God (Job 42:5), repents (Job 42:6) and is rewarded by God (Job 42:12-16).
"And Job died,
Irving Jensen feels (and I agree) that the key verse of the book of Job is…
But He knows the way I take;
For a well done, simple summary/overview of the book of Job see the free Discovery House Pdf booklet entitled Knowing God Through Job - addressing questions like "How could God do this to me?"
The book of Job begins with one of the most glowing descriptions of a human being in all of Scripture…
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil… and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. (Job 1:1,3)
This glowing character resume is repeated two more times, these declarations coming directly from God Himself (see Job 1:8, 2:3). So don't miss the profound truth that Job’s life was pleasing to God before he went into the fiery furnace of affliction!
The subsequent events in the prologue provide some of the most fascinating insights into the supernatural world in all of Scripture and you are strongly encouraged to read (and meditate on this rich epilogue). In short, Satan obtains permission from God to afflict Job with the loss of personal possessions and children to a degree that is difficult to comprehend. And yet James says Job endured, bearing up under the load of unspeakable personal losses.
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped (Hebrew = shachah = bow down, prostrate oneself; LXX = proskuneo - see word study). And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. (Job 1:20-22)
The New Testament counterpart to Job's declaration is found in 1 Timothy 6:7
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Our goal should be to be content as we serve the Lord, thanking God when we have good days choosing to trust Him when days seem not so good, learning to say like Job "Blessed be the Name of the LORD."
WHY DID JOB BLESS THE NAME OF JEHOVAH?
Why did Job bless the Name of Jehovah? Or one might ask how was it even possible for Job to worship and bless the name of Jehovah, not to mention not sinning nor blaming God? The only reasonable answer is that He knew and was convinced of the truth about the character and attributes of Jehovah.
Proverbs gives us some insight into the why Job would bless the name of Jehovah in the midst of overwhelming personal loss. Solomon writes that…
The name of the LORD is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe (Margin note - safe = "set on high") Proverbs 18:10 (NASB)-note
Here are some other translations of Proverbs 18:10-note…
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong." (Amplified Version)
What is in a name, especially the Name of Jehovah? The Lord's name stands for His person, since it reflects His attributes, character and qualities. Here the name of God is Jehovah, His covenant Name by which He made Himself known to Israel. To know God in covenant is a strong tower.
Moses records his conversation with God where
The Name of Jehovah is pictured as if it were a strong tower (see discussion of metaphor) because the reader can more easily understand the value of a strong tower. The metaphor “strong tower” indicates that God is a secure refuge. This picture helps us understand the value of knowing and living in the light of the truth of God's Names of which there are many in Scripture. The Septuagint drops the metaphor of a tower and simply states God's Name is "of great strength" which is not quite as easy to understand as is a "strong tower" (a tower is easier to "run into" than a Name) In either case one can readily discern the great value of meditating on the glorious Names of God.
What does a tower picture? The Bible Illustrator note on ancient towers informs us that…
The image of a tower or citadel reminds us that as believers, righteous men and women, we like Job are aliens and strangers in this world and are in a very real struggle every day for the rest of our life until we see Jesus face to face. In the meantime, we need to remember that when the battle wages fierce against us, we have an ever present towering citadel, our Jehovah - Jesus, in Whom we can run and be safe, though the battle continues all around us! God’s almighty providence is the surest and strongest defense against all enemies of whatever kind.
What action does the righteous man or woman need to carry out? Or stated another way how did Job and how do we "run into" the strong tower? There is no safety in looking at the "strong tower". It is necessary to flee to God in order to be protected by Him. Proverbs 18:10-note says they must "run". It does not say they are to amble or to stroll or to walk in a leisurely or idle manner but that they are to run. Job hears the horrible news and in almost as a reflex falls in worship, blessing the name of the LORD.
How can we "run" into the Name of Jehovah? Clearly this is not literal running (although that may be what we feel like doing when trouble knocks - next time trouble knocks at the door don't send feelings [or fear] to answer the door. Instead send faith, a faith founded on the truth about God). The metaphor of “running” into the strong tower refers to a whole-hearted and unwavering trust in God’s Name and His willingness and ability to provide protection. It is only by faith that we can go to an invisible God.
I think Lane is correct adding that…
The Biblical Illustrator adds the following thought on how we run into the Name of Jehovah…
In Paul's last known communication, he explained to Timothy that because he was a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the gospel, he had experienced suffering (he was in a Roman prison as he wrote the letter and knew he would soon die!). But he quickly added that he was not ashamed for (and I loosely paraphrase) he had "run" into the strong tower of the LORD, writing…
Paul expressed an unshaken confidence in the LORD's ability to do what he trusted Him to do. He not only knew the truth about the LORD (the Strong Tower) but he had become firmly convinced of this truth. There is practical difference between knowing the truth about God which is inherent in His Names and being convinced of the truth.
The difference is that we hold the former…
While the latter holds us!
Until the Word of Truth (the Name of God), becomes not just something we hold, but rather something which holds us, then we will likely not fully experience all that is available in the strong tower when the winds of adversity begin to blow. Job knew truth about God and this truth was the anchor of his soul in his hour of great trial. He knew the name Jehovah, I Am… I Am ___________. Fill in the blank, not with your greeds, but with your needs. Job who lost everything, but he ran into the "Strong Tower" of Jehovah, the great I Am, I Am everything you will ever need! And remember as far as we can discern Job did not even have this truth in writing but was truth he had heard and had treasured in his heart more than his necessary food! (see Job 23:12-note). Job had learned the secret of surviving the fire of affliction, even if he did not fully understand the reasons for the "fire". (For more discussion of Proverbs 18:10 see - notes on a simple inductive study on What it Means to be Safe in Jehovah's Name? and also see C H Spurgeon's sermon on Proverbs18:10)
And how did he respond to a second volley of afflictions, this time directed at his body, Satan smiting "Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head." (Job 2:7)?
(Job) took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:8 9 10
And we see repeated testimonies that speak of his endurance and ultimately speak of his great faith in a good God.
Wind And Worship - Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. --Job 1:20
Job's calamities were enormous. His oxen and donkeys were stolen. Fire consumed his sheep. Raiders took his camels. But that was just the beginning. A great wind destroyed the house where his sons and daughters were feasting, and they all perished. His loss seemed unbearable! But notice Job's response. He humbled himself and worshiped God (Job 1:20).
On April 2, 1977, the sky north of Olivet, Michigan, grew black and ominous. Just another severe thunderstorm, thought Norm Heddon. But when pressure began building in his ears, he instinctively rushed down the basement stairs—which took about 5 seconds. Then it happened—his house exploded into thousands of pieces from a killer tornado. Minutes later when Norm emerged, he couldn't believe his eyes. All his earthly goods had been swept away, but miraculously his family was unhurt. Bowing in prayer, they thanked God for His goodness. Heddon said, "He has a hand in everything that happens to us."
How can anyone worship while caught up in the fierce winds of adversity? The answer is clear: By anchoring our faith in the love and wisdom of God, we can say through our tears, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). — Dennis J. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Thinking It Over - Do you feel abandoned by God, as Job did? Tell Him how you feel. Then ask Him to help you believe the truth about His love for you.
When you are swept off your feet,
In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew ravaged South Florida, destroying homes, businesses, and lives. The cost of that terrible disaster cannot be estimated only in terms of millions upon millions of dollars. What about the incalculable human suffering - physical, emotional, and spiritual? If people lost faith in God and prayer, they sustained the worst loss of all.
My times are in Thy hand;
BUT HE KNOWS THE WAY I TAKE: (Ge 18:19 2Ki 20:3 Ps 1:6 139:1-3 Jn 21:17 2Ti 2:19)
Context: Job 23 and Job 24 represent Job's third reply to Eliphaz.
GOD KNOWS THE WAY
In the immediately preceding context Job declared…
So in the context of Job not being able to "find" God in front, behind, on his left or on his right, Job knows enough about God to testify that God knows the way I take, which speaks of God's omnipresence and omniscience. God knows that Job is in the furnace of affliction and that is enough for Job to know and it is enough for us to know beloved.
Spurgeon (Go to p6 for beginning of exposition on Job 23) affirms the importance of Job's (and our) awareness that God knows what Job was (we are) going through writing…
If I do not know His way, He knows mine.
Henry Morris observes regarding Job's affirmation that even though he cannot see God, he knows that God can see him…
Job's faith is still strong and, by this time, he is beginning to sense that his sufferings somehow are being used by God as a test of his faith.
And why would Job's faith be strong? The answer is found in Job 23:12-note where we see that he treasured the Words of God more than his necessary food. This truth coupled with his obedience to God's Word help understand the "secret of Job's success".
Paul links the hearing of God's Word with the growth of faith writing that…
faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Ro 10:17-note)
Of course hearing must be followed by doing (Jas 1:22-note) and in Job 23:11-note Job affirms that he has been a doer of the Word and not merely a hearer only. In other words he has not just heard but he has obeyed, which is important for there to be growth of one's faith. To hear God's Word and not to do it is to delude one's self. James says it is like looking in a mirror (God's Word) and walking away but immediately forgetting or disregarding what the mirror showed you about yourself…
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten (verb = completely forgotten!) what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. (Jas 1:23 24-note).
Job was not a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer and was blessed in the end, as affirmed by James…
Behold, we count those blessed who endured (hupomeno). You have heard of the endurance (hupomone) of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (Jas 5:11)
To summarize, Job had heard God's Word, believed God's Word, obeyed God's Word and as a result knew God and His character and was confident he could trust Him, even though he could not see Him (cp He 11:1, 2Co 5:7).
Job's faith and endurance and ability to see God with eyes of faith not sight remind me of Moses…
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him Who is unseen. (He 11:24 25 26-note He 11:27-note)
Evangelist D. L. Moody emphasizes the importance of trusting in God…
Trust in yourself and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in your friends, and they will die and leave you; but trust in God, and you will never be confounded in time or eternity.
He knows (yada) - Job is saying "God is intimately acquainted (see discussion of "yada" below) with what I am going through." The Septuagint translates yada with the verb eido/oida which signifies fullness of knowledge or absolute knowledge and thus indicates God's knowledge of Job's circumstances and his subsequent journey is beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Knows (3945) (yada) is used 873v in the OT and in general means to have knowledge of something and can be used of knowledge which is intimate and experiential. Yada in some context even describes a man "knowing" a woman intimately.
Ps 1:6 (notes) For the LORD knows (yada; Lxx = ginosko = experiential knowledge) the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Ps 139:1-3 (notes) O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known (yada; Lxx = ginosko) me. 2 Thou dost know (yada; Lxx = ginosko) when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. 3 Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
2Ti 2:19 (notes) Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows (ginosko) those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain (command to withdraw or depart) from wickedness."
I. That the great God was fully cognisant of His individual trial. “He knoweth the way that I take.” Wherever I am, at home or abroad, in solitude or society, “He knoweth,” etc. He knows the way I take--the way my thoughts take, my feelings take, my purposes take. But what support is there in the knowledge of this fact?
1. God’s knowledge of the individual sufferer is associated with the profoundest love. “As a father pitieth his children,” etc.
2. His knowledge is associated with an almighty capacity to help. The other sustaining fact of which he was conscious was--
II. That the great God was mercifully using his trials as discipline. “When He hath tried me.” Why does He try by affliction?
1. Not that He has any pleasure in our suffering. “He doth not afflict willingly,” etc. Nor--
2. That He may discover what is in our hearts. He knows all about us.
But He does it--
1. In order to humble us on account of our sins.
2. In order that we may feel our dependence on Him.
3. In order that we may commit ourselves entirely into His keeping.
III. That the great God would turn his painful discipline to his advantage. “I shall come forth as gold,” etc. “Tribulation worketh patience,” etc. But how does affliction benefit?
1. It serves to raise our appreciation of the Bible.
2. It serves to develop the powers of the mind. David’s afflictions brought out some of the most brilliant of his psalms.
3. It serves to develop the spiritual life.
4. It serves to detach us from the world. It gradually breaks down the materialism in which the soul is caged, and lets it flee into the open air and light of spiritual realms. (Homilist.)
When He has tried me - Two truths come forth from the word "when". First, he does not say "if" but "when". Trials are guaranteed (cp 2Ti 3:12-note, Acts 14:22)! Trials came to Job and will come into the life of every believer. Surely if Job, who by God's Own assessment was a blameless and upright man (Job 1:1 cp "the greatest of all the men of the east" Job 1:3), was in need of testing, then none of God's children will escape the Refiner's fire! Secondly, notice that when is a time phrase which is defined as "during the time that" and so in this verse refers to during the time of the trial. This indicates that the trial has a finite "lifespan" which will come to a blessed end.
Trials are the soil in which faith can flourish.
God is the Refiner and His fires of testing are never meant to destroy us but to purify us and remove the "dross" from our life. The great old hymn How Firm A Foundation beautifully expresses this eternal truth about our loving Jehovah-Jesus…
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
Tried (0974) (bachan/bahan) (See also discussion at Malachi 3:10) is a primary (or root) word which depicts examination to determine (and bring out) the essential qualities of something, and in the moral realm speaks particularly of a person's integrity (think of integer = indivisible - undivided ~ think undivided heart or single minded focus/purpose). In Scripture bachan is used almost exclusively in this moral/spiritual sense meaning to try, search out, examine or prove one's spiritual heart or character.
To assay (English dictionary) - To try the goodness, purity, weight, value, etc. of metals or metallic substances. Any operation or experiment for ascertaining the quantity of a precious metal in an ore or mineral.
To probe (English dictionary) - To search into and explore with great thoroughness. To subject to a penetrating investigation. In Medicine to probe is to examine the depth of a wound, ulcer or some cavity of the body, by the use of an instrument thrust into the part.
To try (English dictionary) - To prove by a test; as, to try weights and measures by a standard. To melt (fat, lard, etc.) in order to separate out impurities. To extract a material from an ore, mixture, etc., usually by heat; refine.
Bachan/bahan - 27v in NAS - Ge 42:15 16; 1Chr 29:17; Job 7:18; 12:11; 23:10; 34:3, 36; Ps 7:9-note; Ps 11:4-note Ps 11:5-note; Ps 17:3-note; Ps 26:2-note; Ps 66:10-note; Ps 81:7-note; Ps 95:9-note; Ps 139:23-note; Pr 17:3; Jer 6:27; 9:7; 11:20; 12:3; 17:10; 20:12; Zech 13:9; Mal 3:10, 15. For all of these Scriptures see also discussion of bachan at Malachi 3:10.
NAS = assay(2), examine(2), proved(1), test(7), tested(3), tests(3), tried(5), tries(2), try(3).
Below are several of the uses of Bachan…
1Chronicles 29:17 "Since I know, O my God, that You try (bachan) the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You.
Psalm 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test (bachan; LXX = exetazo = intently, carefully examine, scrutinize) the sons of men.
Spurgeon: He narrowly inspects their actions, words, and thoughts. As men, when intently and narrowly inspecting some very minute object, almost close their eyelids to exclude every other object, so will the Lord look all men through and through. God sees each man as much and as perfectly as if there were no other creature in the universe. He sees us always; He never removes His eye from us; He sees us entirely, reading the recesses of the soul as readily as the glancings of the eye. Is not this a sufficient ground of confidence, and an abundant answer to the solicitations of despondency? My danger is not hid from Him; He knows my extremity, and I may rest assured that He will not suffer me to perish while I rely alone on Him. Wherefore, then, should I take wings of a timid bird, and flee from the dangers which beset me?
Psalm 11:5 The LORD examines (bachan; LXX = exetazo = intently, carefully examine, scrutinize) the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.
Spurgeon on Ps 11:5: The Lord tries the righteous: He doth not hate them, but only tries them. They are precious to Him, and therefore He refines them with afflictions. None of the Lord's children may hope to escape from trial, nor, indeed, in our right minds, would any of us desire to do so, for trial is the channel of many blessings.
It is my happiness below
Not to live without the cross;
But the Saviour's power to know,
Sanctifying every loss.
"Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet
Lay me low, and keep me there."
"Did I meet no trials here --
No chastisement by the way --
Might I not, with reason, fear
I should prove a cast away?"
Unbelievers may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight;
But the true born child of God
Must not -- would not, if he might."
Is not this a very cogent reason why we should not distrustfully endeavour to shun a trial? -- for in so doing we are seeking to avoid a blessing.
Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.
Psalm 139:23 Search (red = commands) me, O God, and know my heart; Try (Bachan) me and know my anxious thoughts;
Spurgeon: Exercise any and every test upon me. By fire and by water let me be examined. Read not alone the desires of my heart, but the fugitive thoughts of my head. Know with all penetrating knowledge all that is or has been in the chambers of my mind. What a mercy that there is one being who can know us to perfection! He is intimately at home with us. He is graciously inclined towards us, and is willing to bend his omniscience to serve the end of our sanctification. Let us pray as David did, and let us be as honest as he. We cannot hide our sin: salvation lies the other way, in a plain discovery of evil, and an effectual severance from it.
Proverbs 17:3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests (bachan) hearts.
Zechariah 13:9 (Context = Terminus of 3.5 years of Great Tribulation) "And I will bring the third part (of Jews = the believing remnant) through the fire, Refine (tsaraph) them as silver is refined, And test (bachan; LXX = dokimazo) them as gold is tested (bachan). They will call on My name (Because of His outpouring of the Spirit of grace - Zech 12:10), And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God (fulfillment of His New Covenant promise in Je 31:31 32 33 esp v33)'"
Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test (bachan = command) Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes that…
In only five of the occurrences is bachan used without explicit theological reference. These are found in Ge 42:15-16; Ezek 21:13; Job 12:11; 34:3. All of the remaining occurrences (twenty-two times), except three, refer to God’s examination of his people. In the exceptions, it is God Who is tested. It is evident that this is abnormal procedure. In Ps 95:9 the people are reminded of the folly of testing God at Meribah. In Malachi, it is only because of the people’s apathy that God calls them to test him (Mal 3:10, 15).
As is indicated in Hebrews (see notes Hebrews 12:5; 12:6; 12:7; 12:8), part of the privilege of being God’s people is that of being tested (Jer 20:12; Ps 11:5; Ps 139:23). Unlike the Egyptian doctrine where the heart is weighed after death, Yahweh continually assays the hearts of his people that in the end they may come forth as gold (Zech 13:9; Job 23:10). (Harris, R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press)
When metals are refined and purified they are heated to extremely high temperatures to remove the impurities or dross.
Warren Wiersbe comments that Job was not just in any furnace…
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible describes dross as …
the residue left at the end of the smelting process after metal has been separated from the impurities. Dross was a symbol for the imperfection of sinful Israel. In the smelting process, heat is applied to ore that contains precious metal. This causes the imperfections to separate, leaving only the pure metal. The prophet Isaiah warned the nation of Israel that it had become impure and would require purging in this way (Isaiah 1:22-25). (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
Unger adds that dross (Hebrew =sig = refuse) represents…
The impurities separated from silver, etc., by the process of melting (Prov. 25:4; 26:23); also the base metal itself prior to smelting (Isa. 1:22, 25; Ezek. 22:18-19). Figurative. Dross is used to represent the wicked (Ps. 119:119; Prov. 26:23), sin (Isa. 1:25), and Israel (Ezek. 22:18-29). (Unger, M. F., Harrison, R. K., Vos, H. F., Barber, C. J., & Unger, M. F. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Press)
Spurgeon in his comments on Ps 66:10 writes of the tests…
Searching and repeated, severe and thorough, has been the test; the same result has followed us as in the case of precious metal, for the dross and tin have been consumed, and the pure ore has been discovered. Since trial is sanctified to so desirable an end, ought we not to submit to it with abounding resignation…
(Spurgeon has this additional note) Convinced from the frequent use of this illustration (of the refining of precious metals), that there was something more than usually instructive in the process of assaying and purifying silver, I have collected some few facts upon the subject. The hackneyed story of the refiner seeing his image in the molten silver while in the fire, has so charmed most of us, that we have not looked further; yet, with more careful study, much could be brought out. To assay silver requires great personal care in the operator.
"The principle of assaying gold and silver is very simple theoretically, but in practice great experience is necessary to insure accuracy; and there is no branch of business which demands more personal and undivided attention. The result is liable to the influence of so many contingencies, that no assayer who regards his reputation will delegate the principal process to one not equally skilled with himself. Besides the result ascertainable by weight, there are allowances and compensations to be made, which are known only to an experienced assayer, and if these were disregarded, as might be the case with the mere novice, the report would be wide from the truth." (Encyclopaedia Britannica.)
Pagnini's version reads: "Thou hast melted us by blowing upon us," and in the monuments of Egypt, artificers are seen with the blowpipe operating with small fire places, with cheeks to confine and reflect the heat; the worker evidently paying personal attention, which is evident also in Malachi 3:3,
"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
To assay silver requires a skillfully constructed furnace. The description of this furnace would only weary the reader, but it is evidently a work of art in itself. Even the trial of our faith is much more precious than that of gold which perisheth (1Pe 1:7-note). He has refined us, but not with silver. He would not trust us there, the furnace of affliction is far more skillfully arranged than that. To assay silver the heat must be nicely regulated.
"During the operation, the assayer's attention should be directed to the heat of the furnace, which must be neither too hot nor too cold: if too hot, minute portions of silver will be carried off with the lead, and so vitiate the assay; moreover, the pores of the cupel being more open, greater absorption will ensue, and there is liability to loss from that cause. One indication of an excess of heat in the furnace, is the rapid and perpendicular rising of the fumes to the ceiling of the muffle, the mode of checking and controlling which has been pointed out in the description of the improved furnace. When the fumes are observed to fall to the bottom of the muffle, the furnace is then too cold; and if left unaltered, it will be found that the cupellation has been imperfectly performed, and the silver will not have entirely freed itself from the base metals. (Encyclopaedia Britannica.)
The assayer repeats his trying process. Usually two or more trials of the same piece are made, so that great accuracy may be secured. Seven times silver is said to be purified, and the saints through varied trials reach the promised rest." C. H. S.
GOLD FROM THE REFINER'S FIRE
I shall come forth as gold - How could Job have made such an incredible declaration? To be sure Job's assurance on the one hand undoubtedly reflects his certainty that he is innocent of accusations made by his "friends". More important however is the fact he knew His God and He trusted (had faith) in His God, even though he could not see Him at the time he was going through the trial. He had a steadfast trust in Jehovah Who tests hearts, Solomon writing that…
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests (same verb as in Job 23:10 = bachan) hearts. (Job 17:3)
In the excerpt from Spurgeon's sermon (which I recommend that you read - Job 23:10 Whither Goest Thou), you will notice the Prince of Preachers asks and answers the question…
Hath He not promised that we shall never perish? Shall we not, therefore, come forth as gold?
What is Spurgeon's answer?
This confidence is grounded on the Lord's knowledge of us.
I would be presumptuous to disagree with this master expositor of Holy Writ, but his answer does beg another question -- How is it that Job knows about "the Lord's knowledge of us" to use Spurgeon's words? I would suggest that the secret to Job's endurance lies in Job 23:12 (notes) - Job knew His God because he had treasured His Word and obeyed His Word. Therefore Job was confident that God would not destroy him but bring him forth as gold (cp Paul's confidence in God's "keeping ability" because he knew Whom he had believed - 2Ti 1:12-note).
H A Ironside agrees noting that Job declares…
"I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12), and this at a time when the ways of God with His dear servant seemed quite inexplicable, and he floundered in the vain effort to find Him out. Still "the words of His mouth" he loved to dwell upon, and, relying on them, dared to say, "When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).
If that which is reputed to be gold is exposed to the action of a strong fire, if it be genuine, it will lose nothing of its quality, nor of its weight. If it went into the fire gold, it will come out gold; the strongest fire will neither alter nor destroy it. So Job: he went into this furnace of affliction an innocent, righteous man; he came out the same. His character lost nothing of its value, nothing of its luster. (Job 23 Commentary)
H G Bosch compares God's care for us in trials to the pattern of vines clinging to trees writing that…
The vines that sometimes grow up the side of oak trees cling to them during the fiercest storms. Although the wind beats upon them, the tendrils hold tightly to the tree's bark. If the vine is on the side opposite the wind, the great oak is its protection; if it's on the exposed side, the wind presses the vine more closely to it.
As Christians, we are sometimes sheltered by God, while other times He allows us to be exposed so we will be pressed more closely to Him. After years of faithfulness, some Christians suddenly find themselves greatly tested and in deep distress--seemingly without reason. They are subjected to terrific battles with doubts, fears, and unbelief. Doesn't God care how much they suffer? Of course He does. But He has a special purpose in withholding immediate relief… Our afflictions are designed not to break us but to bend us toward God. (Pressed Close to God )
Dave Guzik (Job 23) notes that Job's attestation that he will come forth as gold…
Paul has a similar affirmation of faith in the midst of the furnace writing…
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Co 4:16-note 2Co 4:17-note 2Co 4:18-note)
Spurgeon writes that…
Here the true Job comes to the front. You get the gracious man once more on his feet. He staggered a little; but he stands firm now: “When he bath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” So will you, my tried sister, my afflicted brother. The trial of your faith is but for a time; there will come an end to this furnace-work; and when God has tried you, tested you, and taken away your dross, (Ed: Dross = impurities separated from silver, etc., by the process of melting -- the scum that forms on the surface of metal subjected to smelting) he will bring you forth, and you will be pure gold, meet for the Master’s use.
“In the furnace God may prove thee,
It is grand to be able to say that while you are in the fire. It is very easy to say it about another man who is in the furnace; but when you are in there yourself, then to say, “I shall come forth as gold,” is the sublimity of faith! It is a very simple matter to say, “If I were again put into the fire, I know I should come forth as gold;” but it is when the burning heat is melting you, when you seem yourself to be shriveled up in the crucible, and so little of you is left, then is the time still to say, “When the Lord hath finished his work upon me, when he hath thoroughly assayed me, I shall come forth as gold.”
This is beautiful faith on the part of Job. It is very easy for us to read these lines, and to say, "No doubt, tried men do come out of the furnace purified like gold;" but it is quite another thing to be ourselves in the crucible, and to read such a passage as this by the light of the fire, and then to be able to say, "We know it is true, for we are proving its truth even now."
This is the kind of chapter that many a broken heart has to read by itself alone. Many a weeping eye has scanned these words of Job, and truly blessed has that troubled one been who has been able to chime in with the sweet music of this verse:
"He knoweth the way that I take:
Dt 8:2 — "And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Ps 17:3 — Thou hast tried my heart; Thou hast visited me by night; Thou hast tested me and dost find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
Pr 17:3 — The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests hearts.
1Pe 1:7 — that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
C H Spurgeon addresses the purpose of trials in the believer's life in his message on Job 23:10 entitled Whither Goest Thou?…
So what is the value of perseverance in the context of trials? James teaches us…
James uses the verb form of perseverance (hupomeno) a few verses later writing…
Fanny Crosby was not born blind but like the blind man in John 9, her blindness would also turn out to be for the glory of God (John 9:24), "in order that the works of God might be displayed in" her (cp Jesus' words in John 9:3)! In May of 1820, when she was six weeks old, Fanny caught a cold, and her eyes became slightly inflamed. The regular physician in Putnam County, New York, was out of town, and a man posing as a doctor gave her the wrong treatment. Within days, her eyesight was destroyed, and the man fled town in a panic. Fanny was never bitter about the stranger's intervention.
And so this precious saint lived for almost a century a testimony of God's amazing grace, living into her nineties, composing over 9,000 beloved hymns of praise and worship, as well as over 1,000 secular poems. On her 92nd birthday (she died at the age of 95 in 1915) she cheerfully said
What enabled Fanny Crosby to experience such joy in the face of what the natural man terms a "tragedy"? At an early age made the choice to "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4). In fact, Fanny carried out a resolution she made when she was only 8 years old…
And yet what "secret" lay behind Fanny's ability to consider it all joy? What was Fanny Crosby's "secret of success"? Dear reader, I submit that it was the same secret that Job had come to understand and to which he testified in Job 23:12! Like Job, from a young age, Fanny Crosby had dedicated herself to imbibing the Word of God and before she was ten years old, she had memorized most of the New Testament and more than five books of the Old Testament! By some accounts she eventually came to know the entire Bible BY HEART! (see Fanny Crosby: Her Early Education Experience).
These words from one of her final hymns express the foremost hope of her life
And I shall see Him face to face
G Campbell Morgan observes that…
Spurgeon adds that…
English of the Septuagint: And I will go forth according to his commandments, for I have kept his ways; and I shall not turn aside from his commandments,
Amplified: My foot has held fast to His steps; His ways have I kept and not turned aside. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
BBE: My feet have gone in his steps; I have kept in his way, without turning to one side or to the other.
KJV: My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
NJB: My footsteps have followed close in his, I have walked in his way without swerving;
Young's Literal: On His step hath my foot laid hold, His way I have kept, and turn not aside,
|MY FOOT HAS HELD FAST TO HIS PATH: (My foot - 1Sa 12:2 3 4 5 Ps 18:20 21 22 23 24. 44:18. Acts 20:18, 19, 33, 34. 2Co 1:12. 1Th 2:10) (His path - Job 17:9)
Observe Job's repeated affirmation of his obedience to God - he strings together four statements that attest to his obedience (3 in this verse and 1 in Job 23:12).
Such was the godly prophet Samuel's testimony before Israel…
Held fast (0270) ('achaz) means to seize, grasp, hold firmly and in this context speaks of Job's tenacity in holding to God's ways.
As a corollary - Job held to God's ways because he held fast to God's Words which in turn held him fast! Beloved, this dynamic is still valid today! It begs the question - are you holding fast His faithful, trustworthy Word? Be honest - are you setting aside time to savor the Scriptures? I did not say scan them or speed read them. To suck on the pure honey from one verse is better than to superficially sample an entire chapter or book (see the advantages God promises for meditation - Ps 1:2-)
'Achaz is used in Genesis 22:13 to describe the "ram caught ('achaz) in the thicket by his horns." What a great picture of how firmly all believers should grip the Word of Life which speaks of the Lamb of God, the Incarnate Word, our Jehovah Jireh: The LORD Who Provides!
'Achaz - 63 verses - Gen 22:13; 25:26; 34:10; 47:27; Exod 4:4; 15:14f; Num 31:30, 47; 32:30; Deut 32:41; Josh 22:9, 19; Judg 1:6; 12:6; 16:3, 21; 20:6; Ruth 3:15; 2 Sam 1:9; 2:21; 4:10; 6:6; 20:9; 1 Kgs 1:51; 6:6, 10; 1 Chr 13:9; 24:6; 2 Chr 9:18; 25:5; Neh 7:3; Esth 1:6; Job 8:17; 16:12; 17:9; 18:9, 20; 21:6; 23:11; 26:9; 30:16; 38:13; Ps 48:6; 73:23; 77:4; 119:53; 137:9; 139:10; Eccl 2:3; 7:18; 9:12; Song 2:15; 3:4, 8; 7:8; Isa 5:29; 13:8; 21:3; 33:14; Jer 13:21; 49:24; Ezek 41:6
First use - Gen 22:13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.
Usage: acquire property(1), acquired property(1), attached(1), bolt(1), catch(1), caught(3), drawn(2), fastened(3), grasp(2), grasped(1), grasps(1), gripped(1), grips(1), handle(1), have possessions(1), held(4), held fast(1), hold(3), holding(1), inserted(1), lay hold(1), obscures(1), possessed(1), seized(10), seizes(3), take hold(6), take possession(1), taken(2), taken hold(3), takes hold(2), took(1), took hold(3), trapped(1), wielders(1).
Spurgeon exhorts us first with a general exhortation regarding one's path and the relationship with holiness and godliness …
I HAVE KEPT HIS WAY AND NOT TURNED ASIDE: (Job 17:9. Ps 36:3 Ps125:5. Zeph 1:6. Lk 8:13 14 15. Ro 2:7. 2 Pe 2:20 2122)
Kept (08104) (shamar/samar) means to watch over carefully, to guard or be on one's guard.
The first use of shamar/samar in Ge 2:15 is notable, for God clearly instructed Adam and Eve to "keep" (guard, watch over) the garden of Eden and we see the consequences of their failure to obey God's instruction.
TWOT writes that
The Septuagint (LXX) translates shamar/samar with the verb phulasso which means to watch, to carry out the function as a military guard or sentinel (cp Ac 23:35, 28:16), to keep watch, to have one's eye upon lest one escape, to guard a person that he might remain safe (from violence, from another person or thing, from being snatched away, from being lost). The NT uses phulasso of guarding truth (eg, 1Ti 5:21, 6:20, 2Ti 1:14-note) Phulasso is the verb used to describe the shepherds "keeping watch (phulasso) over their flock by night (Lk 2:8), which congers up the image of savage wolves seeking to devour the helpless sheep. The parallels with the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd Who keeps watch over His sheep should not go unnoticed.
David uses shamar twice in his attestation that he had conducted himself with righteousness before the LORD…
Spurgeon comments on Job's declaration
I HAVE KEPT HIS WAY…
I have… Not Turned aside (05186) (natah) means to stretch out (hand, arm, staff Ex 7:19) or spreading one's tent or with the nuance of to turn as in the present passage (Nu 20:17; 21:22; 22:23, 26, 33; 2Sa 6:10).
The Septuagint (LXX) translates natah with the verb ekklino which means to turn away from or aside as deviating from the right path (Ro 3:12). Josephus has a use that refers to staying clear of prickly shrubs!
Hartley states that
The psalmist uses shamar/samar in a similar declaration of obedience to the Lord…
Spurgeon comments on Job's declaration…
I HAVE NOT TURNED ASIDE
Pulpit Commentary Homily on Job 23:8-12 (The pulpit commentary)