PAST BLESSINGS INSPIRE WISTFUL REFLECTIONS
David Clines: This speech has a clear tripartite structure, corresponding to the three chapters, 29–31. The three movements are differentiated by their temporal focus: chap. 29 looks entirely to the past (“Oh, that I were in the months of old”), chap. 30 looks to the present as a contrast to that past, with the repetition of its key word “and now” (vv 1, 9, 16), while chap. 31, in returning to the past, has the future more in mind, both as the realm where Job’s imprecations could come into being and as the sphere of the longed-for response from God.
Elmer Smick: Like a lawyer summing up his case, Job begins his monologue with an emotional recall of his former happiness, wealth, and honor (ch. 29) and proceeds to lament, not the loss of wealth, but the loss of his dignity and God’s friendship (ch. 30). He completes this trilogy with a final protestation of innocence (ch. 31). This chapter is sometimes called a negative confession. It is really an oath of innocence that effectively concludes with Job’s signature in 31:35. There is no more Job can say; his case rests in God’s hands. Job has to be shown to be a liar and suffer the punishment he calls upon himself or be vindicated. Chapter 29 is a classic example of Semitic rhetoric with one of the elements of good style being a symmetrical structure.
In this writer’s opinion, the order of the verses in the Hebrew text presents the author’s original symmetrical intention. The pattern is as follows:
Job’s benevolence (vv.11/12–17)
Chapter 29 deals with both active and passive aspects of Job’s former life. He was blessed by God and honored by people. But he was also socially active, a benefactor and leader. His benevolence was an important part of the high position he held in his society, where social righteousness was expected of every ruling elder. The Ugaritic literature and Hammurabi’s Code both stress the responsibility of rulers to protect the poor and champion the cause of widows and orphans. So a description of Job’s benevolence is in the climactic position in this oration, with the key line (v.14) in the exact middle of the poem. This verse sums up his benevolence in a striking metaphor about his being clothed with righteousness. Such benevolence establishes his right to the honor and blessing that the surrounding verses describe. This chapter, then, is setting the stage for chapter 30.
John Hartley: This avowal of innocence consists of three distinct parts: Job’s remembrance of his former abundant life (ch. 29), a lament (ch. 30), and an oath of innocence (ch. 31). The author has composed a wonderful piece by stretching the structure of a psalm of lament. At the beginning he has placed Job’s reminiscence of his past glory (ch. 29). And at the conclusion he has elaborately expanded an oath of innocence, an element that appears in some psalms of lament (e.g., Ps. 7:4–6 [Eng. 3–51; 17:3, 5). The entire speech may be labeled an avowal of innocence. The oath of innocence is the focal point of the avowal, for by it Job demands from God a legal judgment on his character. The remembrance portrays by contrast the depth of Job’s affliction as expressed in the lament. These two elements also reveal Job’s motivation for uttering the oath. And the lament seeks to move God to respond compassionately to Job’s oath. In Westermann’s words, Job is simultaneously “a supplicant and an initiator of a legal proceeding.”
Job begins his avowal of innocence with a detailed description of his former stature in the community. Then he had intimate fellowship with God. The community recognized God’s favor in his life and showed him their highest respect. But Job did not rest in his glory; he diligently helped the poor and unfortunate. Confident that he pleased God, he looked for a long, prosperous life. This remembrance serves to portray the depth of his shame as he will express it in his lament (ch. 30).
The five sections of this chapter are
– God’s rich blessing (vv. 1–6);
– the respect Job commanded (vv. 7–10);
– Job’s striving for justice (vv. 11–19);
– Job’s hope for a long, blessed life (vv. 19–20);
– and the most respected elder (vv. 21–25).
Three nodal verses in the speech, for each of its three movements, may be detected. In the first movement, the opening line, “Oh, that I were in the months of old!” (v 2), is evidently the key to all that follows. In the second, there is not so obviously one nodal verse, but the last verse (v 31) enshrines the theme of the movement perfectly, with its contrast between the former days and the present: “My harp has been given over to mourning, and my flute to the voice of those who wail.” In the third movement, there can be little doubt that the key verse is that which brings together the whole of the chapter and calls for future action: “Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!” (v 35).
Tremper Longman: This chapter contains Job’s wistful reflections on his previous life, when his prosperity and fame coincided with his righteous behavior. He begins by remembering the days when God blessed him. He speaks in general terms in vv. 2–7. When God was his friend, his life was good and he was considered important. He was indeed so important and powerful that young people got out of his way and the aged and noble were quiet in order to let him speak (vv. 8–10). People respected him not simply because he was powerful but also because he took care of the vulnerable (poor, orphans, widows, the blind and lame, the needy and stranger; vv. 11–17).
For these reasons, he thought that he would be honored for life and die in peace. He thought that he would thrive (vv. 18–25) until the end.
(:1) PROLOGUE – JOB’S SECOND MONOLOGUE
“And Job again took up his discourse and said,”
John Hartley: The introductory formula sets off these three chapters from the previous two chapters (chs. 27–28), which in their present position appear to be a part of Job’s last speech in the dialogue. The introductory formula is the same as that for ch. 27. . . Here the introductory formula indicates that Job continues to speak, but that he is taking a different direction. It thus marks off Job’s avowal of innocence from the dialogue.
I. (:2-6) PAST BLESSINGS
Derek Kidner: Four particular blessings
1. God’s care for them (:2-3)
2. God’s friendship (:4)
3. God’s provision (:5)
4. God’s presence (:5)
A. (:2) God’s Providential Care
“Oh that I were as in months gone by,
As in the days when God watched over me;”
John Hartley: Job begins his avowal of innocence by remembering his former glory. He characterizes those days as a time when God nourished and protected his life. The phrase God watched [šāmar] over me describes God’s special care for and protection of his own servant (cf. Num. 6:24–26; Ps. 91:11; 121:7–8). In a grateful manner Job acknowledges that God, not his own wisdom and shrewdness, had been the source of his wealth. Job never lets his pride lead him to make the claim that he had been the genius behind his success. His conviction about God’s blessing keeps his lament focused on the real cause of his pain, a ruptured relationship with God. Since he never abandons his gratitude for God’s past favor, his lament flows from real hurt.
David Atkinson: In 29:1, we again get the introductory formula ‘Job continued his discourse’. Job is yearning for that sense of the immediacy of God’s presence that he had known before.
In the words of William Cowper:
Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?…
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.
Job recalls those earlier days. If only it were like that again! ‘How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness!’ (29:2-3). Verses 2 to 11 are a longing for those earlier days, full of wistfulness and sadness.
David Clines: The air of nostalgia in chap. 29 is persuasively introduced by the opening wish, “Oh, that I were in the months of old” (v 2), and sustained throughout the chapter, climaxing in Job’s report of his former thought, “I shall die among my nestlings . . .” (vv 18–20). Everything in this first movement is sweetness and light, his footsteps bathed in curds (v 6), and his young people about him—with the lone exception of the passing reference to breaking the jawbone of the unrighteous (v 17). . .
What is this “keeping” by God? What does it consist of, what are its effects? On the most basic level, it is a keeping alive, so that if Job is alive it is evidence of God’s “keeping” him. But “keeping” generally means more than that, and implies life with good fortune. In the days when God watched over him, Job was prosperous; and his prosperity is what he means here by God’s keeping him. It is the same as in 1:10, where God’s “putting a hedge” about him is parallel to, and essentially means the same as, God’s “blessing” him so that his possessions increase. No doubt we should recognize that Job is expressing a gratitude to God when he attributes his wealth to God’s blessing (as Hartley); but is he now expressing gratitude for God’s taking his wealth away? In 1:21 he blessed the God who had given and who had taken away; but that does not seem to be his attitude now. Rather, he feels he has been abused by God.
Warren Wiersbe: There is a ministry in memory if we use it properly. Moses admonished Israel to remember the way God had led them and cared for them (Deut. 8:2). In fact, the word “remember” is found fourteen times in Deuteronomy and word “forget” nine times. In days of disappointment, it’s good to “remember the years of the right hand of the Most High” (Ps. 77:10-11; see 42:6). But the past must be a rudder to guide us and not an anchor to hold us back. If we try to duplicate today what we experienced yesterday, we may find ourselves in a rut that robs us of maturity.
B. (:3) God’s Guiding Illumination
“When His lamp shone over my head,
And by His light I walked through darkness;”
John Hartley: Light is a symbol of blessing and success (Ps. 36:10 [Eng. 9]; 18:29 [Eng. 28]). Healing and joy attend its shining. When Job faced darkness or difficult circumstances God’s light gave him direction and the courage to pursue the right course. As God showed Job the way, Job obeyed by walking in it.
Spurgeon: It is a great thing for a man to be near to God; it is a very choice privilege to be admitted into the inner circle of communion, and to become God’s familiar friend. Great as the privilege is, so great is the loss of it. No darkness is so dark as that which falls on eyes accustomed to the light.
The ways that Job sensed this great loss from God.
• First, he complains that he had lost the consciousness of divine preservation (as in the days when God watched over me).
• Job had also lost divine consolation, for he looks back with lamentation to the time when God’s candle shone upon his head (when His lamp shone upon my head).
• Moreover, Job deplored the loss of divine illumination. ‘By his light,’ he says, ‘I walked through darkness,’ that is to say, perplexity ceased to be perplexity (by His light I walked through darkness).
• Moreover, Job had lost divine communion: so it seems, for he mourned the days of his youth, when the secret of God was upon his tabernacle (when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent).
C. (:4-5) God’s Intimate Friendship
“As I was in the prime of my days,
When the friendship of God was over my tent;
When the Almighty was yet with me,
And my children were around me;”
John Hartley: Prior to his misfortune Job believed that he had reached the prime of life (lit. “his own harvest,” ḥōrep), the time in his life when he would fully enjoy the abundance of his labor. An intimate in his tent, God was present with Job, giving him counsel and protection. God fully accepted his servant, for his presence is the highest blessing he bestows on a person. Job was also filled with happiness at the sound of his children playing about his dwelling. The children themselves were a concrete sign of God’s blessing (cf. Ps. 128:3).
Derek Kidner: Nothing is more reassuring than to have God’s presence with us. It is the very essence of God’s covenant with us that he repeats, again and again, “I will be with you” (cf. Genesis 39:2; Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5, 9; Isaiah 43:2, 5; Matthew 1:23; 28:20). At present, Job has lost the assurance of God’s presence. His friends are mocking him, just as the psalmists’ enemies did when they said, “Where is your God now?” (Psalm 42:3, 9, 10; 43:1-2). But then, in those wonderful days before the trial, God was with him, and he knew it!
D. (:6) God’s Abundant Provision
“When my steps were bathed in butter,
And the rock poured out for me streams of oil!”
Francis Andersen: The traditional tokens of God’s approval were a numerous family, prolific herds and productive fields. These Job enjoyed (5b, 6). The rock is either the olive press or the hillside with terraced groves of trees.
John Hartley: Job’s household was filled with abundance. An abundance of curds and oil symbolize a rich, affluent life. Job’s flocks produced such an abundance of curds, a staple food, that figuratively speaking he had the luxury of washing his feet in thick cream. His olive trees produced such a great yield that the rock poured out streams of oil for Job. This imagery refers either to the olive trees growing on the rocky hillside or to the olive presses, made out of stone and set up in the orchards, flowing with oil. Olive oil was a vital product for the ancients. They used it for cooking, for fuel in their lamps, and as an ointment for the body.
David Clines: It is especially interesting that in this picture of his former happy domestic existence Job simply puts side by side various memories of his past, without categorizing or prioritizing them. Even if he thinks it, he does not want to say that any one of them is the key or the source of the happiness; he is not in the business of accounting. But commentators are. They insist on saying things like “Naturally the first element in Job’s happiness . . . was the presence of his children. . . . The second, though a less, element of his happiness was his overflowing abundance” (Davidson). “[T]he presence of his children . . . constitute[s] God’s blessing par excellence” (Gordis). “[God’s] presence is the highest blessing he bestows on a person” (Hartley). “The companionship of God was his highest good, then the companionship of his children” (Peake). “The sum of his happiness had been his sure untroubled sense of the divine presence. . . . The second element of his happiness had been his domestic gladness” (Strahan). Job, on the other hand, is overwhelmed by a mixture of disparate memories, which are related in some way he does not wish to explore. Each has its charm and each its bitterness.
II. (:7-10) PAST RESPECT
Francis Andersen: Wealthy men are not often loved. They are more likely to be feared, envied or hated. In the Bible there are numerous passages in which the rich are equated with the wicked. It is supposed that a person gets rich only by dishonesty, at someone else’s loss, and keeps his gains because he is selfish. Not so Job. He enjoyed the esteem of the whole town. The Greeks were not the only ancient people who saw the good life in terms of full participation in the affairs of the city. In Israel the gate of the city (7) was the community centre where public business was done. Here Job was shown the highest respect.
A. (:7) Daily Routine Involved Prominent Status
“When I went out to the gate of the city,
When I took my seat in the square;”
Tremper Longman: He also served in an important and well-honored societal capacity, since 29:7 tells us he sat in the gate of the city, the place where the leaders of the city (elders) sat and made important decisions. He was highly honored then, but no longer.
B. (:8-10) Deferential Response Involved Honor and Respect
Tremper Longman: Job continues his painful reminiscence of better times by cataloguing how people used to react to him. Both young and old showed him great respect. The young got out of his way, and those who were his age (that is, his equals) stood to honor him. The latter reminds us of today’s practice of standing in a courtroom when the judge enters the room. Job was someone who could make an impact on their lives, so they showed him proper deference. Verses 9–10 continue this theme by speaking of how even the upper classes of society (princes, śārîm; nobles, nĕgîdîm) were awed by his presence. They demonstrated their respect by growing silent. This likely indicates the honor in which they would have held Job’s speech. Why should they speak when a man of such obvious wisdom and piety has the floor?
1. (:8) Response of All Ages – Young and Old
“The young men saw me and hid themselves,
And the old men arose and stood.”
2. (:9-10) Response of the Elite — Princes and Key Officials
“The princes stopped talking,
And put their hands on their mouths;
The voice of the nobles was hushed,
And their tongue stuck to their palate.”
Cf. old E. F. Hutton commercials
John Hartley: Nobles (neḡîḏîm), those who had positions of authority in the government or in the army, also hushed their speaking. Their esteem for Job is caught by the phrase their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. Job was accorded the highest honor as he took his seat in the town square.
Elmer Smick: Correct protocol demanded silence till the most honored person had spoken. The language excels in its descriptive power: Hushed, with their tongues sticking to the roofs of their mouths, all used to wait in silence for Job to speak (v.10). Verse 11 implies that he had spoken and registers the effect.
III. (:11-17) PURSUIT OF JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THE VULNERABLE
Francis Andersen: For Job, right conduct is almost entirely social; his private duty to himself as a man is not discussed, his duty to God in the cult is touched on only in the matter of idolatry (31:26f.), an important but negative matter. In Job’s conscience, sins are not just wrong things people do, disobeying known laws of God or society; to omit to do good to any fellow human being, of whatever rank or class, would be a grievous offence to God.
David Clines: It should not go without notice that Job’s sense of responsibility to the needy has the effect of making him into a near royal figure. . . In the Psalms, the one who has the duty of judging the poor and delivering the needy, the one who has blessings showered on him for his deeds of philanthropy, is the king (cf. Ps 72:1–4, 12–14, 15–17). Job’s benevolence is sincere enough, but he benefits from it in self-esteem and in the regard of others.
A. (:11-14) Protecting the Vulnerable
1. (:11-12) Receiving Accolades for Protecting the Vulnerable
“For when the ear heard, it called me blessed;
And when the eye saw, it gave witness of me,
Because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
And the orphan who had no helper.”
Tremper Longman: First, Job was a protector of the vulnerable. The poor, the orphan, and the widow were those who easily fell prey in ancient society. The orphan lacked parents, and the widow lacked a husband who could care for the family. The poor lacked resources. Job, however, stepped forward with his wealth to help these unfortunates. Job earlier identified those who did not help the socially vulnerable as wicked (24:3–4, 21). Here he also refutes Eliphaz’s point that he oppressed the widow and the orphan (22:9).
2. (:13) Reviving Blessing and Joy to the Vulnerable
“The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me,
And I made the widow’s heart sing for joy.”
3. (:14) Rendering Decisions in Justice and Righteousness
“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
My justice was like a robe and a turban.”
Elmer Smick: Verse 14 stands in the center of the stanza and the poem. It sums up in a metaphor what the surrounding verses present in action, thus describing his character as righteous. The entire stanza is the climax because it presents Job’s major point in the trilogy as well as the reason he was so honored and blessed.
John Hartley: Job clothed himself with righteousness, and in turn righteous activity clothed him. The justice he practiced enveloped him like a mantle and a turban. The robe or mantle was a garment worn on dress occasions, and the turban symbolized one’s status, e.g., that of a king (Isa. 62:3) or a high priest (Zech. 3:5). While Job presided as elder his clothes witnessed to his complete commitment to justice. Indeed, Job implanted these qualities deep within himself so that they controlled his words and decisions.
David Clines: Job “clothed” himself with righteousness (cf. Isa 59:17; 61:10; Ps 132:9); he adorned himself with this quality, and it brought honor to him, as a costly garment would. Evildoers are sometimes said to be clothed with shame (8:22; Ps 132:18); that is the opposite of the honor that accrues from right behavior. In 40:10 Job is challenged by God to clothe himself with glory and splendor if he is to be any match for the Almighty; it is implied that God himself is decked in the most glorious clothes imaginable. Here Job is thinking not so much of being surrounded by righteousness as one’s body is surrounded by its clothes, but more as being noticed by others for the quality of his benevolence, as one is noticed for the quality of one’s clothing. His right dealing with others serves like a mantle and a turban, clothing him entirely, and projecting the persona he desires.
B. (:15-17) Delivering the Vulnerable
Tremper Longman: In vv. 15–17 Job returns to listing the benefits he brought to those in need. He gave sight to the blind, indicating that he would guide them to their destination. Perhaps he was “feet to the lame” by carrying them or having them carried by his servants. The needy did not have a father who would protect and provide for them, but Job served that function. Strangers could be easily neglected in ancient society, but not by Job, who made sure that they were treated justly. As for the wicked who would take advantage of such people, Job attacked them. He broke their jaw, not allowing them to masticate these people as prey.
1. (:15) Delivering the Severely Handicapped
“I was eyes to the blind,
And feet to the lame.”
2. (:16a) Dispensing Loving Care to the Needy
“I was a father to the needy,”
3. (:16b) Diligently Investigating Tough Cases to Deliver the Right Verdict
“And I investigated the case which I did not know.”
Peter Wallace: I want you to see a couple things here.
– First, Job delivered the poor who cried for help. The legal system has been charged with cronyism ever since its origins. The courts have been dominated by the rich and powerful since the beginning – after all, they are trying to protect their wealth and status! The city gate (or the county court house) can be an intimidating place for the poor But Job had a reputation for defending the weak and powerless – at least, those “who cried for help”!
– Second, Job “searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.” The idea here is that he carefully investigated a complaint – he was thorough in his work as a judge. The reason why this is important is because if you just side with the weak against the strong, you may wind up doing injustice; because sometimes the weak is in the wrong! Job searched out the cause of him whom I did not know, so that he could break the fangs of the unrighteous. If you are going to take on the rich and powerful, then you need to have a strong argument!
4. (:17a) Destroying the Power of the Oppressors
“And I broke the jaws of the wicked,”
5. (:17b) Delivering Vulnerable Prey
“And snatched the prey from his teeth.”
John Hartley: Job went a step further. He not only helped the oppressed; he also sought to break the power of the oppressors. He wanted both to deprive these scoundrels of their spoil and to put them out of commission. The cruel harshness with which these charlatans afflicted the unfortunate is captured by the word fangs. They acted like fierce animals, ravaging their weak prey. Job, however, championed the cause of the abused, broke the fangs of the wicked, and snatched the prey from his teeth.
IV. (:18-20) EXPECTATION OF A LONG AND VIGOROUS LIFE –
A. (:18) Sand Analogy
“Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
And I shall multiply my days as the sand.”
Tremper Longman: In v. 18b he confesses that he expected that he would live till his days were like sand. The number of grains in even a small quantity of sand is almost beyond counting. So if Job’s days are like the sand, then he is extremely old. Verse 19 shifts to a tree analogy. Job is like a tree whose roots went toward (or probably in) the water and whose branches were soaked in dew. A tree is an image of fertility and life but only insofar as it is nourished by plentiful water, as here.
B. (:19) Tree Anology
“My root is spread out to the waters,
And dew lies all night on my branch.”
John Hartley: Because of God’s blessing Job had expected to experience abundant blessings, both material and spiritual. He pictures himself as a stalwart tree, a fitting image for the righteous. He believed that his roots were spreading out to a perennial source of water. And in the dry season the nightly dew would refresh his branches. He believed confidently that he could weather any adversity.
C. (:20) Warrior and Hunter Analogy
“My glory is ever new with me,
And my bow is renewed in my hand.”
John Hartley: Job believed that he would have a vigorous life in all aspects. The paralleling of liver and bow means that he would be strong emotionally and physically. The liver is an organ associated with a person’s most intimate feelings. A fresh liver means that a sense of well-being permeated his inner being. From within himself he had the resilience to lead the community in the way of righteousness. The bow signifies manly vigor (Gen. 49:24); thus to have one’s bow broken symbolizes that one becomes impotent. Job believed that his bow would be ever new, always pliable so that he could continually rely on it to shoot an arrow with force and accuracy. That is, Job looked forward to a vigorous, healthy life and to the growth of his honor and authority in Uz.
V. (:21-25) RESPECTED LEADERSHIP ROLE
John Hartley: The community listened expectantly to Job’s counsel. When he spoke, others kept silent out of deep respect. They anticipated excitedly that Job’s words would point the direction that the community would take. His rhetoric was so insightful that no one dared to oppose him. The manner of his speaking fell gently on the people. Through wise, gentle counsel he inspired the community to carry out the right course of action. His words were awaited like the coming of the winter rains to water the dry earth. The community drank wisdom from them just as the ground gladly absorbs the spring rain, i.e., the latter rains which bring the maturing crops to a full harvest.
Warren Wiersbe: His final source of joy was the privilege of speaking words of encouragement and help (vv. 21-25). He was indeed a Barnabas, “a son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36; NKJV), whose words were respected and appreciated. When he spoke, it was as gentle and refreshing as the rain. When he gave people hope, Job’s approval was like the dawning of a new day! He was a leader who helped the perplexed make wise decisions and gave the mourners fresh comfort and hope.
Roy Zuck: Besides being blessed (vv. 2-6); helping others (vv. 7-17), and expecting his health and vigor to continue (vv. 18-20), Job’s counsel was welcomed – contrary to the attitude of his three uninvited guests! People had eagerly welcomed his opinions, like the soil drinking in the spring rain. In his counseling he even encouraged others by his smile.
A. (21-23) Leadership Role in Providing Helpful Counsel
“To me they listened and waited,
And kept silent for my counsel.
After my words they did not speak again,
And my speech dropped on them.
And they waited for me as for the rain,
And opened their mouth as for the spring rain.”
B. (:24) Leadership Role in Providing Emotional Encouragement
“I smiled on them when they did not believe,
And the light of my face they did not cast down.”
John Hartley: At the appropriate moment Job smiled on the people. His expression of warmth and blessing so delighted them that they scarcely believed it. Whoever lets his countenance shine on others expresses his kindness toward them (cf. Ps. 4:7 [Eng. 61]). The people never let Job’s cherished gesture pass unnoticed (so Dhorme); his smile motivated them to moral courage. Job was an inspirational leader and “a beneficent source of life” (Habel, OTL).
David Clines: The meaning of this verse is much disputed. The key issues are: Did Job smile (whether in approval or encouragement) or laugh at his fellow citizens? The verb could mean either. Did they “not believe” he smiled at them because he was usually so strict and solemn, or was it that he smiled on them because they were “inconfident”? And what does “the light of my face they did not drop” mean? It is hard to say, but the best interpretation seems to be that when he smiled on them in approval they could hardly believe their good fortune, since they never expected any opinion of theirs to merit his acceptance. . . That they did not disregard the importance of acquiring Job’s favor is an understatement of course; to gain it was their supreme goal—that is what Job means to say.
Others interpret quite differently, seeing here a reference to Job’s encouragement of the downhearted, and to the impossibility of anyone causing his happiness to falter (taking “cast down the light of my face” to mean “make me sad”). Thus, for example, Driver: “Job’s clear-sighted counsel encouraged them, if they were despondent: on the other hand . . . their despondency never clouded his cheerfulness” (similarly Rowley); and Delitzsch “[He] did not allow anything to dispossess him of his easy and contented disposition.”
C. (:25) Summary of Respected Leadership Role
“I chose a way for them and sat as chief,
And dwelt as a king among the troops,
As one who comforted the mourners.”
Francis Andersen: The last verse is the most difficult of all. This is a pity, for it seems to be a summary. The last colon, which some (e.g. NEB) delete as a homeless stray, might be echoing verse 24 with a reference to the comforting of mourners. The parallelism within verse 25a, however, permits a tetracolon to be worked out. Job is invested with the highest titles.
I was chosen as their governor,
And I used to sit as their chief,
And I dwelt like a king in his regiment
like one who comforts mourners.
Such was the former greatness of Job.
John Hartley: Job’s judicious counsel prompted the people to appoint him as their chief. This verse encompasses every aspect of his role in the community, from leading the counsel in peaceful times to guiding the people through a crisis and to caring for the unfortunate. As though he were a king over his troops, he inspired the community to work with moral resolve and discipline for the common good. This picture suggests that Job addressed the assembly particularly on the occasion of their mourning some catastrophe, like drought, famine, or plague. Through his wise counsel he led the community to take steps to overcome the difficulty.