1 ¶ Moreover Job continued his parable, and said, 2 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; 3 When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; 4 As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; 5 When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me; 6 When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
Job goes into a time of remembering the good old days. Solomon reminded us;
Ecclesiastes 7:10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
We do this after a tragedy in our lives, remembering with perhaps a bit of the proverbial rose-colored glasses the former days. Job was, indeed, riding high at one time, a big family he loved, wealth, and health. All that appears to be over for him.
Oil and butter signify abundance. You can understand that in a culture that depended on animal and plant products not only for survival and but also as the source of its wealth. Oil was used for, among other things, light and for imparting some special significance.
Exodus 25:6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7 ¶ When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street! 8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up. 9 The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth. 10 The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth. 11 When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: 12 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. 13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. 14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. 15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. 16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. 17 And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.
Here Job shows us his position in his culture, a position of leadership and judgment. Those who ruled and judged sat in the gate and the gate of the city is the place from which judgment was issued.
2Samuel 15:2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.
Amos 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
These are just two of many verses about judging in the gate. See also Genesis 19:1; Ruth 4; 2Samuel 18:24; 19:8; 2Chronicles 18:9; Daniel 2:49 and others. This gives us the sense of the verse following which means that the judgments of Hell will not prevail against the church.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Verses 8-11 reveal Job’s place of respect and power, perhaps even his kingship, in his culture. In 12 and 13 he remembers his own good deeds and his compassion. This makes you mindful of the Christian’s true expression of his faith, what James called undefiled, pure religion.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Verse 14 has some interesting cross references;
Psalm 132:9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
Isaiah 61:10 ¶ I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
This also represents an interesting take on the purpose of government in God’s eyes. First, we can look at Romans 13, that government is to punish evildoers. We can look at Joseph and his Pharaoh’s relationship with the welfare of the people in disastrous times and in preparing for those times. We can also see here in Job the requirement of good government to punish oppressors and to help the powerless.
18 ¶ Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. 19 My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch. 20 My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand. 21 Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel. 22 After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them. 23 And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain. 24 If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down. 25 I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.
Back in the day, Job thought that all of his goodness would produce a long life with prosperity and happiness. He did not look toward any complications or think that his expectations would be frustrated. Job speaks here of his wisdom and the reaction of people to it.
Here, Job speaks of himself by way of simile, using as, like a king and someone with the authority to comfort the poor and helpless. Was he a king? We don’t know but he certainly seemed to be some type of ruler, even if by virtue of his wealth only.
Notice in verse 18 the hyperbole where Job compares his expected days of life to the sand. This is obviously not literal as no one imagines that Job thought he would live for trillions of years on this earth in his present state. Here, hyperbole is used again in the Bible regarding sand.
Hebrews 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
While some would argue that this may be true in eternity as a prophetic statement it is certainly not literally true now.
From verse 19 we can cross reference to see how men are compared to trees elsewhere.
Psalm 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
And should give us a point of study in how the branch is used in Job elsewhere and in prophecy how Jesus is THE Branch.
Job 8:16 He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
Job 14:7 For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Job 15:32 It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.
Job 18:16 His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.
Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
Zechariah 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
Trees, branches, and roots are the center of very important comparisons made in the Bible, much like stones and rocks. It is a good idea to make a study of them that would not be appropriate here.
As we approach the end of Job’s arguments we see how Job spends a great many words exalting himself and reminding his friends of what a great man he really was. His speech continues as he manifests one trait of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, the belief that if they live a Godly life, by their definition of Godly, then nothing bad should ever happen to them. If they were truthful about it they would admit that they think they’ve made some kind of deal with God. “I’ll be good and you, God, be nice.”